This is our final post about sadness and grieving, but one we felt necessary. We pray it will be a source of encouragement to others.
Tom and I have had only a few times in our 34 years together where grieving was necessary. What a blessing. I know there are many reading these posts quite familiar with grief in a way we have never experienced. We can’t imagine the pain some couples have faced together, let alone understand how to speak words that would encourage. But today’s post is largely for those who have not experienced grief — yet. I say yet, because we know if we live long enough that grief is inevitable.
Here is what we have learned as a couple walking through this season of grief:
- Grief is unpredictable – it ambushes you, as described by a good friend. How true. I (Debi) can be having a perfectly normal day, when out of the blue something triggers the grief and I feel as if I’ve been punched in the gut. It disrupts everything.
- The one grieving craves normal, though it will never have it. The normal that comes later is not the way life was before the grief hit.
- The one not grieving to the same degree craves normal to come sooner than may be possible. Be patient and understanding, even if you don’t understand.
- Grief seeks to be alone and miserable, but this is not the best for you or your spouse. It’s best to stay close to each other, even if words are difficult or not spoken at all.
- A hug is often enough.
- Crying comes in waves. Don’t fight the tears, rather let them flow, and they’ll stop soon enough.
- Think more carefully before you say something to your spouse. It’s easy to bark back to the spouse who isn’t experiencing the same level of grief. Much grace is needed to do this and to forgive when words are spoken harshly.
- Have no expectations. Patience is key and is a Fruit of the Spirit. If you find yourself lacking patience, cry out to the only One who can help – your Heavenly Father.
- Avoid feeling sorry for yourself. It’s expected to be sad when facing grief, but it can easily spill over into being self-absorbed.
- Finally, the last thing I’ll share is what my Mom taught me after my Dad died. I asked her how she was handling her grief. Listen to her words of wisdom:
“Whenever I’m sad I look for someone else who is in a worse place than me, and I do what I can to help ease their pain.”
Grieving is never an excuse to let our feelings rule and reign in our hearts and our marriage.
We must guard our thoughts even more diligently or the grief can easily cause more damage.
This post is in no way an exhaustive list of how to handle grieving, it is only what we have learned in the past few weeks. We pray it will help you if you’re facing grief, or in the days ahead when you will.
How have you handled grief in your marriage? Was it a time where you drew closer together? Or did it seek to pull you apart?