Difficult aspects of life and death are part of every person’s story. To be well-rounded and whole it’s important to work through loss and those deeper issues that cause you grief. You will be such a better mother if you do!
“Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.”
Work Through Loss and Grief
Everyone has suffered losses. This is a big one for you if, like me, you have lost your mother. But it’s big for everyone at some level. Because, the sad reality is all your friends and family will, at some point, complete their time here on earth. Past, present, or future, it takes all you can manage to work through loss personally, let alone prepare your children. Perhaps you have lost, or will soon lose, your father, your child, your partner in life, or a close friend. And grief descends on you. It catches you like a big shadowy butterfly net, and often keeps you from flying.
But loss and grief are caused by so much more than losing a loved one. If it didn’t catch up with you as a child, it most certainly will during your adult life. You will most likely lose a myriad of things, including relationships, status, jobs, homes and pets. While grief is a certain fact of life, it’s often sneakily hidden. It can be buried under the busyness of day-to-day living; covered up by study and exams; concealed by poor relationships; or veiled by mental or physical illness.
Grief, and its brother Depression, are feelings we intuitively hide. Their unseen, murky undercurrent drag you down in unexpected ways: sadness lurks under every bright day; unhappiness punches the breath out of you; and you find yourself alone and withdrawn. Unfortunately, without realizing it, you can relish in self-punishment, and self-sabotage your projects. And these are just a few outcomes of grief! You can read more about how to work through loss from Beyond Blue.
So yes, we all intuitively hide away. But I have learnt that is not the best way. It’s much better to face it and work through loss and grief.
Grief and it’s Unexpected Consequences
When my father died, more than 30 years after my mother, I remember feeling so awful. It took me by surprise. Night after night, I struggled to fall asleep, and my life lost its rosy hue.
I thought I knew how to manage loss, having come to grips with death at the tender age of 16, when my mother died. But I was mistaken. I did know to stay hopeful, because while it seems to last forever, the darkness does end one day. And I also knew the “new normal” comes, and while life may never be the same again, it does become bearable.
However, this new loss of my elderly father, far from making death easier to manage, re-opened all the old wounds. Becoming a double orphan made me feel like all the fence posts around the edges of my life had shifted, and it was totally unexpected. I hadn’t realized that new grief compounds, and builds on top of old grief. Shockingly, it was like losing both my parents at once.
I know I do not have all the answers when it comes to helping you work through loss and grief. I’m no expert. However, I did learn during those dark days that hiding away was not the best thing to do. It felt very unnatural at the time, but it was far better to be with others, even though I couldn’t be my usual happy self. At the time I was very grateful to live in a supportive community of loving people, who could bear my quietness, and my tears.
There are a few other things I learnt too. So keep on reading!
Some Pointers to Help You Work Through Loss and Grief
It’s important that you process those dark days and work through loss and grief. Here are some suggestions:
1. Be kind to yourself
Grief takes time. So let the tears flow. There will be good days. And there will be bad. Be patient with yourself. The light will come again.
2. Don’t forget self-care
Grief Watch says, “As we grieve it is important to remember to take care of ourselves.”
- If you cannot sleep, at least take time to rest.
- Avoid the temptation to eat badly, which only makes it harder for your body to cope. Instead, feed yourself good quality food.
- If you need to be with people, then seek them out. On the other hand if you want to be alone, look for solitude.
- Don’t forget to exercise. Because even just going outside for some fresh air is helpful.
- If you need to be emotional, let it out. Your life, while you work through loss and grief, will be a roller coaster of emotions. So let them happen. Holding your emotions in doesn’t work. Believe me, I’ve tried!
3. Take your time and persevere
Things will get better. Sort through those issues that cause you grief by offloading your feelings, and be patient with yourself. While it’s a sad time, to work through loss is important, because it helps you become better through the experience, and not bitter and twisted. But it does take time.
4. Talk to a friend who is willing to listen
Find a friend who will listen to you in confidence, and let you pour out your heart without judgement or question. Here are some tips to finding a friend >>>
5. Write your thoughts in a journal
Sometimes writing down how you’re feeling is a great outlet. For this reason, a journal is a great non-judgemental space. Plus, you can get everything off your chest, and not ever have to look at it again. I’ve got some pointers on journal-writing you might like to read >>>
6. Speak to a pastor or counselor
Every so often, it is just too overwhelming to work through loss and grief alone. So talking to a professional can really help you process it. Don’t suffer in silence.
7. Get creative
Some people find it helpful to offload their grief by drawing, painting, building or making something. After my Dad died I was drawn to a cross stitch pattern I found. It was a good outlet for me to work on over those months.
8. Your life WILL move ahead
Eventually, you will get better, and that’s a definite outcome. Plus, after all this, after all you learn, after all the tears and the gut-wrenching realizations, you will come out the other side a better person. Your perspective on life and all things good will change. As well, you will be able to give a glimmer of hope to others, including your children, who are traveling a difficult journey, just by being you. And that has to be a good thing.
- Sometimes, one of the best things you can do is to get back to work, and be busy.
- Friends, family members and colleagues, may tread quietly around you, not sure what to do. Ask them for activities to keep you occupied, or even just their company.
- My stepmother got busy after my father died. After having managed out-of-home care for him during a long decline, she did life as usual, collapsing into bed at night, exhausted. And gospel singer Tammy Trent, who lost her husband in a diving accident, told me she became a gym junkie after he died. Wearing herself out was the only way she could sleep. Tammy said she had to “learn to trust God when nothing made sense.”
I’m not sure that bringing yourself to exhaustion is a regularly recommended therapy, but that’s just the point. You have to do what’s right for you in your recovery phase. Just stay safe, okay?
9. Call out to God in your distress
As the last point, this is definitely the most important. When on earth, Jesus was no stranger to grief. He wept when his good friend Lazarus died, and His heart ached in every human way, just like you and me. Jesus understands your loss. He came to heal the brokenhearted, and be close to the downtrodden.
He heals the brokenhearted
and binds up their wounds.
Often, we’re tempted to blame God for our loss. I know I did. But eventually I learnt it’s so much better to let that go. God is not the source of your pain. Rather, He is the way through it. Ask Him to show you what to do, or to bring the right people across your path to help you recover.
Being the Best “YOU” that You can Be
Yes, it is painful to work through loss and grief, but freedom will come. Growing and maturing as a person happens slowly. But like removing a splinter, or having deeper surgery, you can chose to look more closely at those dark parts of your life, and walk through that dark valley.
Your motherhood journey depends on you working these deeper issues through so you can be the mature and well-rounded person your children need, so they can be well-nurtured and loved. They need you to be the best “YOU” that you can be.
So remember: Take heart! It will be alright! You will “see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm 27:13)
What’s your grief story? Are there things you did to ease your pain?
Next, a complete contrast: 20 Ways to Rock at Being a Mother : Have Fun!