For 22 years of my life, I rarely became acquainted with the idea.
In the last 18 months, grief has become one of my best friends. A constant companion almost.
As you may or may not know, I lost my Mother on June 3rd, 2011 after a lengthy battle with cancer. It was at this point that I became very familiar with grief and the process of dealing with grief.
Over the last few months, several people that I love and respect have lost loved ones and they too have become familiar with grief. These events have caused me to think deeply about my grieving process, and also the lessons that I learned through the process. I felt now was a good time to share this insight, so here it goes.
1) Grief is different for everyone:
One thing we have to realize about grief is that the process is not the same for everyone. I chose to put this point first, because it is important to view the subsequent points through an individual lens. What I share about my experience may not be the same as what you are experiencing right now. With that being said, this is important because it helps us focus on the people around us. When someone close to you dies, it is likely that you will know other people who are also affected by the death of that person. For example, my immediate family. My dad lost his wife and best friend, my sister lost her mother, etc. We all experienced loss at the same time, and we all were dealing with grief at the same time. Looking back, I can see two major mistakes that I made during this time: I was insensitive to the grieving process of my family members, and I viewed them through the prism of my grieving process (Essentially I expected them to grieve as I did).
2) Grief must be engaged:
Grief is a process. In every sense of the phrase, it is a process. There are phases that you will go through. Progress you will make. Back and forth, up and down. Essentially an emotional roller coaster. But here is the key, you MUST engage in the process. You must engage the emotions, the memories, the pain, and also the joy. Believe it or not, joy does exist in the process. It is by engaging the process that healing will come about.
3) Grief leads to growth:
The grieving process is a unique opportunity for growth. It cannot be recreated. It is not something you can learn by reading a book or watching a movie. It is an environment where God can do a wonderful work in your heart and grant you a powerful perspective on life and on Him. Let me put it this way: I learned more about life in the year following my Mothers death, than I did in the previous 22 years of living.
Death is a certainty. If you live long enough, then you will likely experience the death of a loved one. And the longer you live, the more it is going to happen unfortunately. I hope my experience helps you in the future. And know this, although the grieving process is difficult, healing WILL come.