There is no doubt about it, grief is a harrowing process, no matter what angle you approach it. Even though grief is universal in the sense that it touches all humankind, the way we each feel and deal with grief is unique to every individual, kind of like how every snowflake that falls to the earth has its own unique crystal shape.
Gratefully I have been blessed with a firm and unwavering belief in God. Understanding that there is life after death and coming to learn to accept the Lord’s grace and tender mercies in all forms have really helped me deal with my own losses.
Does this make my grief easy then? Absolutely not. There is still a process that must be taken, but at least it helps me cope with the burdens I have been given.
Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on the way you look at it, I have never needed to attend a funeral. However, I am still quite acquainted with grief and loss in the form of miscarriages. I have lost 5 precious souls this way, the most recent being this last summer. In fact, at times, I still feel like I am in recovery mode.
It is devastating. It is emotional. It is heartbreaking.
At some points the pain even seems like it will never let up and that it is going to pierce you and torment you forever. But with time, and the love of God, and the help of close friends and family, the aching eventually subsides. It never seems to completely go away, but at least the hurt will turn into more of a dull and numbing sorrow as opposed to the excruciating pain you had become so familiar with.
Learning to process and accept your loss is probably one of the first steps you will go through when experiencing grief. It helps me to be able to express my raw feelings to a close friend or family member, but only if they are able to sincerely listen and validate my feelings without offering too much advice on how to just move on. And if I am not in the mood to talk, recording my thoughts in a journal also helps me come to terms with the pain I am feeling.
It is especially helpful to be able to communicate directly with others who have had similar experiences. They are able to lend you strength to help you get through your ordeal. It is extremely comforting to know that you are not the only one out there who has felt such an intense loss.
Finding simple joys and pleasures in life, even if they are only momentary distractions, also helps ease the pain. For example, taking a warm bubble bath, losing yourself in a good book, or enjoying a cup of good hot chocolate with a special someone in your life will help relieve your mind for a little while.
Since I have had to endure so many miscarriages, I often get asked what to say and what not to say to someone who is experiencing the loss of their unborn child. I know we all deal with grief differently and we also all find comfort differently, but make sure you avoid the following phrases, even if they are true. The person racked with grief probably doesn’t want to hear them yet:
- “You can always try and have another.”
- “At least you know you can get pregnant.”
- “Maybe this is for the best.”
- “There must have been something wrong with the baby.”
- “Be grateful for the children you do have.”
Some helpful phrases are:
- “I am sorry for your loss.”
- “Is there something I can do to help? Can I bring a meal or watch your children?”
- “I am here for you if you need me.”
One of the most important things is to listen intently to the person who is grieving and follow the cues they are giving. If they want to talk and cry, welcome them with open arms. If they want to be left alone, then respect their wishes. Remember just to be their friend and check in with them periodically through emails or voice-mails to see if you are needed. And please, don’t just completely ignore the situation and pretend it never happened.
How do you cope with your own grief?