Learning to Grieve

Grieving is such a subjective process.  If you think about it, most of us have not been taught how to grieve.  There are no preparatory classes for grieving like there are for other major changes in our life, like pre-marital counseling, parenting, childbirth or even becoming a member at your church.  There are a few grief classes like “Grief Share” conducted through churches or at local hospitals, but those are after the fact.

Generally we are thrown into it abruptly and have to figure out how to cope the best way we can.  If you seek professional help with grief or even look it up on the internet, you will learn about the “Five Stages of Grief” introduced by Elizabeth Kübler-Ross.  Depending on the depth of grief one experiences, professional help is generally a good idea—especially if you become depressed or feel hopeless with your loss.

My first experience with death was the loss of my maternal grandmother when I was ten years old.  We had just moved 2,000 miles away from my father and my friends to be near my mother’s side of the family after their divorce.  My grandmother had a heart attack one night while I was staying in her home, they rushed her to the hospital and she died.  I had only known my grandmother a few months but we were inseparable.  I remember crying buckets of tears over that loss.  Over the years, other relatives passed away, but I was not close to them and there was no grieving to speak of.

Then came the death of my father last month preceded by my mother’s passing last year.  With those losses so close together and fresh in my mind, I have found myself pondering the grief process.  After spending a week tending to family matters and the memorial service out of town, my life quickly returned to its normal hectic pace.  I wrote a few blogs about my father’s passing, I sent photos and videos to family members and even listened to a few of my recorded conversations with my father.  For the most part, these things were done void of tears.  Then there were the occasional times where out of the blue I would just cry, for what seemed like no apparent reason.  It has been mystifying to me.

What I am most grateful for in this time of emotional ups and downs is that I am modeling something to my kids that I didn’t have modeled to me growing up.  Both of my sons have caught me in some of these tearful moments.  The first time they witnessed it, I calmly and tearfully explained to them that it is part of a normal grieving process.  Their concern and assurance of their love have helped me to integrate the loss.

The biggest lesson I have learned in my year of grieving was to offer forgiveness and reconciliation with my parents while I still had the chance.  The healing of those relationships made all the difference for me.  Having no regrets has made my grieving process easier.

So how long will the tears last?  I have no idea.  Everyone goes through the stages of grief at a different pace.  I am content with God’s timing on all of this and knowing that one day He will turn all of our mourning into gladness (Jeremiah 31:13).  Until then, I am carrying on with my life and embracing the healing process that God designed for us, one tear at a time.  Those who sow with tears  will reap with songs of joy. Psalm 126:5 (TNIV)

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  • WELCOME to my site!

    I'm an author, writer, speaker, mentor & mom. I've struggled to find my voice all my life as I lived in the shadows of a mother with mental illness. Thankfully that was not the legacy that she handed down to me. It took a lot of recovery and deep healing work to rise above it.

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