With the coming of Thanksgiving and Christmas, I am reminded of so many individuals in my life who have lost friends, spouses and loved ones this year. Grieving while the world is celebrating can be so difficult. Being sensitive to our grieving friends and family members during the coming season is one of the best ways I know to extend Eternal Love to the people we care about. But how?
Here are a 5 essential things to keep in mind about your loved one’s grief (or your own):
1. Your loved one’s grief isn’t about you. They’ve lost someone precious and you can’t fix, control or minimize that. They miss their lost loved one badly, but it doesn’t mean your role in their life is any less valuable. Know that, and do not take their sadness as a slight against you.
2. Grief does not have a time limit. There is no magic moment when someone can be expected to “snap out” of grief – especially at the holidays. It is unrealistic to expect anyone to suddenly stop grieving at any point. There will be good days and bad days… and the bad days will keep happening for a long time. That’s okay. (Because it’s not about you, remember.)
3. Everyone grieves differently. Mourning is a process. No two people walk through loss in the same way. Comparing your loved one’s grief to anyone else’s process isn’t fair (and it won’t help).
4. Grief is healthy. The grieving process is an important way the heart reconciles itself to a profound loss. Skipping any steps in the process may have detrimental long-term effects on mental, spiritual and relationship health for years (even generations). Just because it doesn’t “feel good” doesn’t mean it isn’t a good, important process to walk.
5. The grief process reveals our healthiest (and least-healthy) relationships. Being sensitive, appropriate and unselfish during your loved one’s grief will strengthen your relationship forever. On the other hand, self-centered comments about how negatively you feel about your friend’s grief process are toxic to that person’s healing. Newsflash: If you are feeling jealous and needy because your loved one is grieving, don’t blame their grief. You may have your own issues to tackle while they are coping with their loss.
Jesus spoke specifically to the grieving in Matthew 5:4:
”God blesses those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.” – Jesus
I’ll leave you with the following quote from Margaret Brownley:
…The best thing you can do is listen to me and let me cry on your shoulder. Don’t be afraid to cry with me. Your tears will tell me how much you care. Please forgive me if I seem insensitive to your problems. I feel depleted and drained, like an empty vessel, with nothing left to give. Please let me express my feelings and talk about my memories. Feel free to share your own stories of my loved one with me. I need to hear them. Please understand why I must turn a deaf ear to criticism or tired clichés…”