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?
While I have lost several loved ones, most recently, in 1999, my dad and my brother-in-law who was truly my big brother went home to The Lord and their Savior. My grief was nothing compared to being there for my mom and my sister. You see, they died one month apart. Dad’s death was expected after 8 months of a struggle againt undiagnosed cancer, but Steve’s passing was unexpected. Dad was 75, Steve was 52. One month apart….it was a rough time for us.
In the last few months, a friend’s 18 year old daughter lost her valiant battle with a rare form of childhood cancer-just months after it looked like she beat it! The same time, another dear friend lost her husband, age 50 to cancer after a 6 month battle. A month later, another friend lost her 64 year old husband to a heart attack after years of fighting Parkinson’s Disease. And then a week ago, a 34 year old died in a car wreck. We are friends of his parents. I needed a fresh reminder of the stages of grief as I pray for the loved ones left behind. How wonderful we have the blessed hope of one day being reunited with them!
My heart aches for you and the various ways you’ve encountered grief. Seeing how God has carried you through this, gives hope to all of us. Thank you for sharing. We pray God will continue to comfort you
Thanks you! I had a good long cry after thinking back on those hard days!
Before I posted, I tried to find the previous posts since you said this will be the last post on grief. I searched and couldn’t find it. (Perhaps add in a link to it?) Finally, I found it! What a blessing your mom was! Reading about her made me want to go hug my mom! She’ll be 90 in August, around the time my first grandchild is due!
I appreciate your blog and pray your grief will turn to beauty as you reflect your mom’s love!
Thank you Dalees. I actually posted more on my author blog if you’d like to read. The link is in the right sidebar. I hope your mom’s 90th year is full of many memories you’ll cherish.
Debi, as you know, our first personal experience with death was with our little boy. Our pastor at the time gave me a book called GOOD GRIEF. It covers the seven stages of grief. It was so very helpful since no one around us knew how to help us. We were only in our early twenties and everyone still had great-grandparents still alive. The one thing I have learned through the many times of grief we have gone through is that it is important for others to let the grieving person talk about it and cry with them. It helped us to heal so much faster.
That’s a day I’ll never forget. Great tip on the book and the advice to weep with those who weep. So glad you joined in the conversation. You have much wisdom to share in this regard.
In the last year and a half, both of my parents and my husband’s oldest brother and sister have passed. My husband, Steve, preached the funeral services for my parents…almost exactly a year apart. Our two children and I sang and shared remembrances for both services; God’s grace was amazing. Steve & I both shared at his sister’s funeral…she was closer than a birth sister to me, as we shared our faith and dreams. What an incredible woman she was!
As 2012 moved on, I found that the grief came in waves…often when least expected. At times I felt like I was wandering in the wilderness and had lost my song. I tried to return to choir a month after my Dad’s death, but couldn’t keep from crying as we sang. Finally, I decided to take a 6-month hiatus from choir to grieve. I cried each week through the congregational singing with my husband holding my hand. He encouraged me to let the tears flow and was always there with hugs, when I most needed shelter from the sadness.
Last Sunday, I returned to the choir and found my song! God’s mercy and grace is sufficient for even the darkest times in our lives.
Ah, you’ve said it well, “it feels as if I’ve lost my song.” Exactly! But most mornings I wake with a worship song on my heart and sense The Lord has been singing over me. I’m so glad you shared. You’ve encouraged me that I will sing again.
Debi (and Tom too) – Thanks for this, it is very good and I think it will be a real blessing to many.
Grief is an odd thing that does not seem to care about our time tables and rules. It can pop up out of the blue months and even years later, triggered by the smallest thing. A wise spouse understands this and is ready to hold and speak or be silent as needed.
Grief is something I have had to learn to deal with on my own. When I was married, my then-husband could have cared less. And now I am a single mom. God helps me through it.