Funerals are a strange thing. I once had someone mention how the way we handle death in this country is incredibly unhealthy for the grieving, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it yet.
How are you supposed to grieve?
When I was in my 20’s, I witnessed a young girl die after her wire harness failed during a performance. I received an email shortly afterwards, along with every other audience member, about how to process the incident. It simply detailed how to grieve.
It was the first time someone told me what grieving looked like. Until then, it was always isolated, private, and internal. No one shared their grieving process; what was healthy for them, what was unhealthy.
I learned that grief lasts for a long time. That it shows up suddenly when you’re washing dishes or grocery shopping. Grief feels like a rug got pulled out from under you and you find yourself being pummelled by wave after wave.
I learned that when the waves hit, the worst thing you can do is brace against them; to avoid or shove or run away from them. They’ll only build up, and eventually they’ll find you.
Instead, let the memories come. Let the waves wash over you. Every single time.
That moment, I relived in my mind a thousand times. But I stopped forcing it away, and instead leaned into them.
When the memory of your loved one, your lost one, your regret, hits you…don’t stop it. Let it happen. Take a deep breathe and let the memory wash over you.
Eventually the waves lose their intensity. Eventually they come less frequently. They may never stop. But the heaviness that once came with them will be gone. The burden will lessen.
The best thing we can do is lean into the grief. Let the moments happen. Give yourself grace for losing it during halftime at the super bowl party. Remember that this is how it works and this is how we heal.
The last thing I learned was to not keep my grief to myself. Bring other people into it, and when the waves wash over you, let other people dry you off.
We’re not meant to celebrate alone and we’re not meant to mourn alone either.
Whether you’re in a season of mourning, or you’ve recently walked out of one, I’m praying for you today. I pray that when the waves feel like they’re thrashing you around, they knock you into people that can hold on to you. That you will find your center more quickly each time. That you’ll have the braveness to lean into the memories, the thoughts, and the struggle, and embrace the fight. I pray that you see the goodness that God has for you, and that through your healing journey, you’ll have the empathy and perseverance to heal others too. You are braver and stronger than you know.
“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” – Psalm 34:18