“Give people their flowers while they can smell them” is a popular saying that emphasizes the importance of showing gratitude and love towards those who mean the most to us. The only problem with giving people their flowers is when they are gone, you are left alone, clutching the painful thorns of those flowers without anyone to give them to.
That is how I felt when my Uncle Anthony died. I felt empty. I felt numb. I felt sad. No longer would he be there to lift me up when I was down. No longer would he be there to share a laugh with. No longer would he be there for me to embrace. I found myself missing him and drowning in heartache.
Grief is that feeling of deep sorrow and pain that accompanies loss. It can affect you mentally, physically and spiritually. Grief is not limited to the loss of people. A separation, layoff, illness or other challenging life events can trigger feelings of anguish.
Following my uncle’s funeral, I began to reclaim my joy by believing in God’s word, finding appropriate outlets and redistributing my love.
“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” – John 14:1-3 NIV
Nothing challenges your faith like death, especially when you prayed against it. My family prayed and uplifted my uncle during his hospital stay. We were optimistic that he would recover from his COVID pneumonia, but after two weeks his condition began to worsen. It seemed like the more we prayed the worse things got until he ultimately died.
Remember, this life is not our end. As believers, we have eternal life in Christ. So, I found comfort in God’s word and knowing that my uncle was no longer burdened by the things of this world. Scripture tells us, to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8) and in His presence there are no more tears; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; because the former things have passed away (Revelations 21:4). While I miss him deeply, I found happiness in knowing that he is finally receiving the rest and peace that alluded him in this world.
When grieving, it is important to find a proper outlet for your feelings. It is okay to cry, to talk through your pain with others and to experience a range of emotions at different times. Just do not get stuck in your grief. Too often, we try to cope with our loss by abusing ourselves, others, and substances.
Discovering positive outlets for your grief is important when moving forward after your loss. I found that exercising, writing and listening to soulful music were therapeutic outlets for me. Find things to channel your grief into, that will help you accept the loss you are experiencing.
You have so much to live for. When you are experiencing sorrow, it may not feel that way and you might find yourself questioning your own existence. The same feelings you are experiencing today over your loss, someone will have those same feelings about you when you are gone.
The love you are holding onto, redistribute it to others. Give it to your parents, spouse, children, siblings, friends, etc. Show them how much you mean to them and how much you love them. Nothing helps you more in the grieving process than knowing you loved and are loved.
When my uncle died, I was sad because he was no longer with me physically. However, I was happy I did not let a moment go by without expressing my love to him. His passing left a huge void in my life and your loss may feel the same way. The void is just a reminder of their love. Do not be in a rush to fill that void, keep that space empty for the memories and feelings of those who are no longer with you, so that you may visit them in your times of need.
Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy. – John 16:22 NIV
Your grief has the ability to break you, but the LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18). God has placed within you a spirit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, not grief and sorrow. By believing in God’s word, finding proper outlets and redistributing your love, you will be on your way to discovering how to overcome your grief.
**If you find yourself needing professional help after experiencing a great loss, please do not hesitate to seek it.**