It’s OK to Grieve
By DANNY MINTON
This past week I took our dog outside and sat in one of the rockers, staring at the night sky. Then, without warning, a sudden sense of sadness swept over me as my thoughts came back to our son, who died seven years ago. For a few moments, my heart swelled, filled with grief over the loss. It didn’t last long, but it hurt for those few minutes.
I stood in line this week to give my condolences to a family who had lost a daughter, one of their three children. While waiting, her brother came up and was speaking with some friends in front of me. With tears wetting his eyes, he said, “You know, it’s always been the three of us, and now it’s just the two of us.” You could feel the sadness and see the grief in his eyes and face.
I found on my Facebook page some feelings of a friend who lost his son around the same time we lost ours. He was expressing how hard the loss had been and still is in his life. He misses him every day and has days of grief and sadness. One of the agreed comments came from another father who had recently lost their son in an accident. The inner suffering is almost overwhelming.
In my position, I find myself comforting scores of people who deal with grief in their lives. Over the years, I’ve learned to handle my outward emotions to keep strong for those who need me to minister to them. However, my heart always grieves with them, knowing something of their inner selves’ emotions.
People ask me, “Does the grief ever completely go away?” I don’t think it does; we just learn to live with it each time it raises its head in our lives. The most simple things can trigger it. We see a photo or hear a song that reminds us of one we have lost. We pass by a particular location that brings back a memory. Sometimes we see someone who resembles them or hear a voice that sounds like them. For years we had a monitor in our special needs child’s room that was on 24/7. I still, at times, will wake in the middle of the night and think I hear him. Our minds are so full of memories that we can never erase all the things that remind us of those we loved so dearly. Grief becomes less as time goes on, but there is always a scar on our hearts that flares up.
There is nothing wrong with going through these times of sadness in our lives. It’s natural. When you have loved someone so dearly, they are a part of your life every day. They live somewhere in our minds, reminding us of the good times we enjoyed and shared. It’s OK to be sad and grieve as long as we realize that those we’ve lost would not want us to stop living our lives.
The author Merrit Malloy wrote a poem entitled “Epitaph,” used at funerals and memorials. It’s a beautiful look at how we can remember and view those we have loved. You can read the whole poem online, but the first and last verses express how we can handle our grief.
When I die
Give what’s left of me away
And old men that wait to die.
Love doesn’t die,
So, when all that’s left of me
Give me away.
Now to those on the outside, let people grieve. Don’t tell them to get over it. Don’t remind them it’s been so long ago. Don’t give some philosophical quote that you’ve heard. Let people go through their moments and be there to lift them. Sometimes people need to let their feelings be known. They need to hurt and cry. They need to vent their sorrow, their anger, their frustration, and their tears. But mostly, they need others to lift them back up. What they need from you is to be there with an understanding heart.
God understands that we face these pains of grief. Revelation 21:4 reminds us of the promise from God. “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”
For those of us, whether facing moments of grief or those standing beside those grieving, the words of Paul to the Corinthians offers us some encouraging words. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3,
Danny Minton is Pastoral Minister and Elder at Southern Hills Church of Christ