It was a chilly evening in February. My family had gathered together for the last time in a small, dimly lit room, sitting around my grandmother who was lying on her bed. We exchanged a few chuckles and tears over various memories, but mostly, we remained in “quiet companionship.” About an hour later, as I expressed my love and farewell to this great woman whom I call “Mimi,” I will never forget the twinkle in her eyes and the smile upon her face.
To this day, about eleven years later, anytime I see a lady wearing a bright red winter coat, I remember the way she dressed. Or, if, around Christmastime, I hear the song “We Three Kings,” I reflect joyfully on how much she loved singing that song. Grief comes in a variety of forms and comes in waves throughout the years. How do you move past the initial shock, though? How do you continue living without your loved one? Let’s take a closer look at the word “grief”: G – R – I – E – F.
“G” stands for “Give yourself time and space.” You may find yourself crying or becoming angry at your loved one for leaving, and this may occur in any assortment of locations, such as your bedroom, vehicle, workplace, or church, and lasting from a few minutes or hours up to several days or months. Specifically, I once heard about a woman who had an intimate loss in her life and had been sobbing continuously where she could barely function on a daily basis. After a few weeks of this, in order to regain some normalcy, she set aside a half hour slot in her daily routine solely for grieving. During this thirty-minute period, she went to a particular location in her home, such as her office area, and just wept. At the end of the half hour, she left that area and carried on with the tasks that needed to be accomplished during that day. As she continued this process repeatedly for several days, she eventually discovered that she no longer needed the allotted thirty minutes, and it slowly diminished to where it no longer played out in her routine. Every person’s time and place to release his or her emotions varies.
Next is “R” – “Remember the memories.” Remembering your loved one is not just significant for future generations to know about him or her, but it is also important in acknowledging the great impact that he or she had upon your own life. Awhile back, a friend endured a loss in her family, and she decided to journal on her memories with him as well as requested those close to her to do the same. If not journaling, memories may be exchanged in the form of storytelling or recaptured by visiting locations that brought great meaning to both of you. I personally recall how, after my grandmother’s funeral, the entire family dined at Mimi’s favorite restaurant and exchanged numerous joys of her time here on earth.
Following “G – Give yourself time and space” and “R – Remember the memories,” then comes “I” – “Illicit others’ assistance when dealing with practical demands.” While this step probably happened immediately after your loved one died, it may continue to occur for several weeks or even months. Besides helping to ease your loneliness relating to your loss, your close family members and friends can accompany you with various endeavors, including preparing meals, making phone calls, sending thank you notes, and even sorting through your loved one’s personal belongings. In Matthew 11:28-29, Jesus Christ states, “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Though the Lord provides comfort during your time of mourning, your grieving can also be relieved by permitting those around you to carry some of the practical burdens.
As this occurs, it also provides an opportunity for you to express your feelings to those close to you, which is represented by “E.” Sometimes you may need to just sit face-to-face with a friend, possibly just crying in his or her presence. Other times, you may express yourself in an email. Children, though, may share their feelings through different forms, like drawings or possibly sudden emotional outbursts. No matter what forms your expressions take, with whom you express them, or when you express them, just express yourself, so you can move forward.
Finally, “F” stands for “Free yourself from others’ expectations as well as your own.” There are no specific steps for how one’s grief should progress. You will experience a mixture of feelings throughout this year as well as during upcoming seasons in your life. Your grief journey is your own, and no one can completely understand it. Know, though, that you are never alone, for the Almighty One is always at your side as a comforting presence.
Overall, relieving your grieving may involve:
- “G” – “Give yourself time and space.”
- “R” – “Remember the memories.”
- “I” – “Illicit others’ assistance when dealing with practical demands.”
- “E” – “Express your feelings to those close to you.”
- “F” – “Free yourself from others’ expectations as well as your own.”
In these final moments, I would like each of you to close your eyes, and imagine your loved one saying the following, which was written by an unknown author:
To Those I Love And To Those Who Love Me
Now that I am gone, release me, let me go.
I have so many things to see and do.
You mustn’t tie yourself to me with tears.
Be happy that we [shared my time here].
I gave you my love. You can only guess
How much you gave to me in happiness
I thank you for the love you each have shown,
But now it’s time I traveled on alone.
So grieve awhile for me if you must.
And let your grief be comforted by trust
It’s only for awhile that we must part.
So bless the memories within your heart.
I won’t be far away. For life goes on.
So if you need me, call and I will come.
Though you can’t see or touch me, [my spirit’s] near—
And if you listen with your heart, you’ll hear
All my love around you soft and clear.
And then, when you must come this way alone,
I’ll greet you with a smile as God says,