Losing Mom – How Others Helped

cropped holding-hands-752878_1280I have had a number of friends and family members who have lost loved ones through the years. Sadly, I never quite understood what to do when someone passes away. I mean, it feels awkward. If you’ve never been through it, you don’t know what they might be feeling. It’s hard to connect to their pain. You don’t want to do something dumb, so you don’t do anything at all.

When I lost Mom, I learned so many things. One of those things is how to better care for others when they lose a loved one. Here’s a list of the things people did for me that I appreciated. Every person grieves differently but a gesture of love will never go amiss.

Showing Up.

Just being a human presence in the midst of the grief is an incredible gift – one that can feel very awkward for the giver. But let me tell you, having family and friends simply be with me during this time of great loss was the best gift they could have given. Being at the funeral, sitting across a table, bringing a meal – all ways that people were with me in my grief.

Listening.

Listening is loving. Friends who asked questions or gave me space to talk about my Mom, about the funeral, about whatever was on my mind that day helped me more than they can ever imagine.

Allowing the Pain.

Our culture really hates pain. Just look at all the ways we work to stay out of pain – medicine, comedy shows, happy faces. Often as compassionate people we want to rush to alleviate the pain we see in our friends’ lives. This isn’t always helpful. I’ve found that the only way I have been able to embrace joy fully is to fully embrace pain. There is a time to mourn and a time for joy (Ecclesiastes 3:4). I am so thankful for the friends who allowed me to express deep pain – even when there was no neat bow to tie at the end of it.

Cards.

I’ve always loved cards but I didn’t know how meaningful sympathy cards could be after losing a loved one. Just to know that someone else is thinking of you and went to the effort of putting a card in the mail was really comforting to me. Every single card I received meant so much to me. I didn’t send sympathy cards before I lost Mom. I do now.

Flowers.

I found flowers extremely comforting and hope-giving. People sent arrangements to the funeral service and brought flowers to my house. Especially meaningful were the bouquets that showed up at my door upon the 1st and 2nd month anniversaries of Mom’s death. Thank you friends who thought to do that.

Acknowledge the Loss.

In the past I frequently sought to minimize my own pain. I’m learning to not do that as much now. I have to say that it was quite validating when others recognized the significant loss that I experienced. When my Bible study friends said, “Let’s just stop and acknowledge that you have experienced huge loss,” it was so healing. It gave me permission to grieve with them.

Moving toward a friend in pain can be awkward but it will mean so much to them. The list above isn’t exhaustive. If you have gone through loss and have other ways that people meaningfully showed love to you, please share it below. I’d love to learn from you.

 

 

Embracing Grief. Embracing Healing.

cropped black-and-white-waves-close-up-view-circleThe past six months have been filled with loss, crisis, grief, and pain. To say the least, it has been a tough season to walk through.

I’ve experienced numerous losses over these months:

  • Leaving my Job of eight years in the fall – my first job out of college.
  • My Mom passing away at the end of February after a 20-year battle with illness.
  • Receiving the diagnosis of Infertility from my doctor after 4½ years of searching for answers.

The compounding of these losses have at times forced me to my knees in heart-wrenching tears. They’ve caused me to ask the tough questions of and about God. They have brought me to multiple days of deep sadness and lethargy and Netflix watching.

Each Loss involves grieving multiple additional losses: The loss of a Dream. Loss of a Voice. Loss of Community. It’s complicated. Messy.

I haven’t always known how to grieve well. When I was 15 my friend died in a house fire. I never shed a tear. Instead I told myself that I needed to be strong and go on with life for her – a very heroic sentiment – but it messed me up. I never allowed the tragedy and sadness of her death to touch my heart. It has taken me years to begin to learn how to grieve well. I am thankful that during this season God led my heart to choose to Embrace the Grief.

I’ve realized that if I don’t allow the painful emotions to hit my heart, it will be like a bone that never sets correctly. I have to walk through the process – every painful step – in order to come out more whole on the other side. I know I have to take the time to cry, to think, to share.

It has been 11 weeks since Mom passed. I know at some level I’ll be grieving her loss for the rest of my life. Not being able to have children who share our DNA is something that this mother’s heart may never be fully okay with. Tears come at unexpected times.

But I have Hope. I’m at a place now where I can see the benefit of embracing the pain and being brutally honest with God. The hard days are lessening and I’m starting to function again. I’m cleaning my house more often. I’m hanging out with friends. I’m going for walks. I’m not spending multiple days watching Netflix. Feelings of anxiety and fear and deep sadness are less frequent. All good steps forward.

Then I have a few bad days where I’ve never felt deeper sadness in my life. On some of those days all I can do is cry out for God to prove His faithfulness again. It’s hard to see a way forward on those days.

Even as I don’t know how long the Season of Grief will be, the Season of Healing has begun. I have the hope that in the end I will be more whole.

As I walk through this Season of Grief, God is birthing new dreams in my heart. I see the world from a deeper, more mature, perspective. I feel more whole than I did before the Season of Grief began. I know myself and God a little better than I did before. I trust God a little more than I did before. I have more compassion for others who are hurting than I did before. I have faith that God is going to Redeem the loss for myself and for others. I am trusting that He is faithful.

I am Embracing Healing.