My husband was married for 18+ years before his first wife passed away almost three years ago, leaving him to raise their two teenaged children alone.
There were so many decisions to be made and so many people pulling him in different directions with regard to which steps to take next. Whether it was how, when, and where to hold her memorial or how to raise their children, everyone had an opinion.
This overload of opinions and information has him still questioning every move he makes, every thought he has, every emotion that he feels.
He questioned whether to follow her wishes and cremate her body or listen to her family and have a burial in a cemetery.
He questions whether he could have saved her from the epileptic seizure that took her; if only he had been home from work at that moment.
He questions if he should still be actively mourning her loss or if he was disgracing her memory by remarrying a high school friend just 9 months after burying her.
He questions how he should incorporate her memory into holidays and family events. Will remembering her cause the family pain? Will not remembering her mean that he no longer loves her or that he never did?
He questions every thought or lack of thought with regard to their relationship and her passing; he is fearful of making a mistake in regard to how he is handling, or not handling, things.
- Should he still think of her constantly?
- Should he still celebrate her birthday, their anniversary?
- Should he still hurt deeply from the loss?
Ecclesiastes 3 says, ” To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven…a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance…”
Everyone deals with loss differently. No one can tell you how you should handle a loss, but there is a time to mourn and a time to put your life back together so that you may be effective for the kingdom of God. My husband felt that he had to move on to be effective for his family. He did not have the option to continue to mourn so deeply that he could not work and support his children. He had to put it behind him, but he still has fond memories of how she helped make him the husband and father he is today. He still remembers her at times when she would have been a comfort or a help to him that noone else can replace.
Some people move on with their life as a way of dealing with their grief. This does not mean that they loved their lost loved one any less. It may in fact mean that they loved them so much that the only way they can deal with it is to look beyond it, and not dwell on it.
There are several steps in the grieving process and each person takes on each step at a different time and at their own rate of speed. The steps include:
1. In the beginning, you may be in denial that this event have even happened. It may seem surreal and not something that is actually happening. It may be as if you are dreaming and trying to wake yourself up.
2. Once you have accepted the fact that it did in fact occur, you may become angry. You may be angry at God or even angry at yourself for not being there to stop the incident that resulted in the death of your loved one.
3. You may find yourself bargaining with God or running back over the steps that could have changed to keep this from happening.
4. Depression is sure to set in at some point. This is a point where you cannot allow yourself to dwell. If you stay depressed for an extended period it may become necessary for you to seek professional help. It is not healthy for you or your family to stay in this step. You have to learn how to accept your loss and move on. Your loved one would not want you to give up the rest of your life for their memory. If they were saved, they are living the life you can only imagine at this point. Yes, they are gone from your world, but they are with our heavenly Father and they are waiting for you to join them in your proper time. They want you to learn from this process and this loss and move on with your life. They want you to take this event and use it to help others in the future.
5. Acceptance is the place where you understand this event was not meant to stop you in your tracks. It was not meant to derail you. It was meant to help you grow and to give you a place from where you can draw strength for yourself and for others. Believe it or not, there is a point in time where your grief will end. John 16 says, “Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” Do not doubt that this time will come. It just takes everyone their own process and their own time frame. The important thing is to be ready to move on when it is time.
If you are dealing with grief that you cannot seem to work through, please ask for help. Your family, your church, your friends, your coworkers…they want to help you be the best you can be and move forward. You would be surprised just how many of them have been where you are. They have learned and grown from the experience and are prepared, by the grace of God, to help you through it too! Matthew 5 says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”