On August 8th, 2021, around nine in the evening, I received the call I had been dreading.
My mom’s voice was shaky and quiet at the other end as she broke the news.
Mema was gone.
Our family had been waiting for her to pass away—we knew the end was near—for eight days. We said our goodbyes during visits to the hospice house where she was staying.
My grief is still raw. It hurts to think about her passing. It’s still surreal that she’s truly gone.
Wading Through Grief in the Beginning
There are five practices I discovered that helped to alleviate grief as I walked through my grandmother’s passing. I’d like to share them with you.
1. Write Down Everything
I haven’t been able to truly cry in years. Walking through the valley of the shadow of death, I didn’t know how I would handle the sad burden of losing a loved one. The promise of God’s presence during this time was a comfort (Matthew 28:20b). But I felt dread, even clutching panic, about how to make it through without the ability to release sorrow through tears.
However, I learned that God bottles every tear—even the ones we can’t shed or cry (see Psalm 56:8).
My mom hugged me outside the door, number 107, after the first visit to my grandmother. I expressed my concern about not being able to cry and she suggested that I journal. So I started writing down my thoughts every evening after spending time at the hospice facility. Each emotion and detail were accounted for. The memories that surfaced, the sadness. It was a wonderful way to cope.
2. Reach for Strength
We need Scripture always, but especially when we’re grieving. How we incorporate it into our days might look different though.
Before crawling into bed, I would play Psalms on the Dwell app. There is a setting with piano and cello playing in the background. It’s a peaceful way to drift off and to find comfort in the Word.
3. Have Supportive People At Your Back
I updated my friends, pastor, family, and counselors through email or text. It was so crucial to have their prayers, kindness, and concern each step of the way. It is a beautiful thing to be vulnerable about what we are going through and to have it returned with compassion and empathy.
Don’t hesitate to reach out for the support and prayers of others in your grief.
It might seem silly but spending time outside with our labs was so therapeutic to me.
I also watched some TV shows with my sisters (I recommend only lighthearted ones!) and played several rounds of Uno Flip with my youngest brother one night.
Walking is supposed to help with anxiety (mine was pretty high off and on), so that was one of the reasons I walked almost every day.
For you it might be something else, the important thing is to take time to unwind. Laugh even. And don’t feel guilty for it.
5. Gather Encouragement
Whether it was collecting quotes on Pinterest, or reading devotional blurbs on Instagram, it was good to have the emotional and soulful fortification. So many of those stories resonated and uplifted me.
I also followed Katie Davis Majors’ Bible reading plan and wrote down my thoughts about the particular passage for that day.
Truths Discovered Through Grief Along the Way
Our mourning is not without the promise of God’s comfort.
He literally calls us “blessed” when we grieve because it is with the promise of receiving solace (see Matthew 5:4). That soothing to anguish is a precious thing.
The God of the universe who allowed “a time to die” also takes the time to tenderly come alongside us and stitch up the gaping holes that we are reeling from in our bereavements (Ecclesiastes 3:2; Psalm 147:3).We aren’t left to shiver and sob in our sadness. We aren’t left alone in the valley of the shadow of death (Psalm 23:4). We are given a Shepherd Who is with us even if we can barely make out His form through the heavy veil of our shed or yet-to-be-shed tears (Psalm 23:1).
We only need to be concerned about one day at a time because there will be enough strength contained within it to sustain us (Deuteronomy 33:25b).
Everyone’s Grieving Experience is Individual
As time has passed since my grandma died, I’ve worried that I haven’t been grieving “the right way” because I’m not tearful like other family members.
Just because my sorrow is different from other people’s does not mean it isn’t healthy.
My heartbreak is unique, and I’ve learned to accept that. Every wound produces different scars. Like fingerprints, no two are alike in depth, length, or scar tissue. Every wound produces different scars. Like fingerprints, no two are alike in depth, length, or scar tissue. Click To Tweet
Be at peace with healing at your own pace. Don’t compare or contrast. Just be. Pray. As a friend suggested by a lesson learned from her own grandmother’s passing: relive the memories.
Do not feel shame for the way you mourn.
Whatever stage of grief you find yourself in—the beginning, middle, or end—the steadfast love and presence of our God promises to be our constant source of comfort, strength, rest, and peace (Psalm 118:1; 46:1; Exodus 33:14). He weeps with us and feels our sadness when the tears won’t come (John 11:35). He holds our hearts. His nail-pierced, wounded hands trace our wounds with a restorative touch (Psalm 147:3; Isaiah 53:5).
Jesus has brought me through the valley of the shadow of death and out to the other side (Psalm 23). God “…has heard the sound of my (our) weeping” (6:8b). It does get better, with time.
Have you lost someone who is special to you? If so, what truths did God use to comfort and sustain your soul?
“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” (Psalm 34:18)