I would not have chosen to write about grief.
When God called me to write, I stepped out in huge faith – and then wrote about homeschooling. I planned a 31-day series on math manipulatives and collaborated with other homeschooling moms on a new site.
But God would have none of it.
So I began to write words I’d so desperately searched for as a young widow.
When Dan died, I didn’t know one other young widow.
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I wanted to know what grief would look like, whether my reactions were normal, whether I’d ever smile again and whether we’d be okay. Would we make it through?
Oh, how I needed someone a few steps ahead to reach back and assure me that though grief was brutal, God would take care of us.
Sunshine would prevail over the dark despair of my broken heart, God himself would be my pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night as I single-parented these kids, and days of broad smiles spilling from deep joy would come again.
I cry when I meet other young widows in those first months of fumbling in the dark for faith.
I cry when I hear their stories and remember the collision of pain and missing and fear and overwhelm.
I want to reach back and extend a hand and say, this way. I can’t fix it. But I can help you find a way through.
And so, today, I offer these 10 ways to keep moving forward through grief.
Give Yourself Grace
Grief affects every single part of your life. It affects you physically, emotionally, cognitively and spiritually and takes its toll on your sleeping, eating, energy, focus, decisions and interests. Grief takes enormous energy. Give yourself continued grace, whether it’s cereal for dinner or a day in jammies, to wrestle through the questions, emotions, missing and pain.
Give Others Grace
Some people will try to fix it and say the wrong thing. Some people want to avoid doing the wrong thing and won’t say anything. Some want to show they understand your loss and will share theirs. They are giving the best they know; give them grace. No one else can heal this pain. Not a spouse, not a friend, not parents. Don’t give them that burden. The full weight of your grief is one only God can carry.
Feed On God’s Word
Let God’s word be your daily manna. Take your despair, your overwhelm, your fear and your pain to God and fill up on his word. Let God lift your head and give you enough hope for that day and then go to him the next day for more. “If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.” Psalm 119:92
Look for Good
In the darkness of loss, God’s goodness stands out in relief. Look for it and mark it down. Keep a journal or write it in your calendar. Ask God to open your eyes to what he is doing in you and around you and vow not to miss a thing God is doing amidst the hard.
Know Your Real Enemy
It’s not God. He’s your shield, your refuge and strong tower. And it’s not your family, though there will be adjustments and even misunderstandings. Your enemy is Satan and while you’re at your weakest, he would love to get his big toe between you and your family or between you and God. Call him out on it every time and call on Jesus to see you through.
Allow the Hardest Feelings
Don’t ignore the pain. Don’t stuff it, mask it or medicate it. You won’t avoid the pain; you will only postpone it. Letting yourself grapple with the hardest emotion is the only way through. You can either deal with grief now on your terms or you’ll deal with it later on its terms. There is NO not dealing with grief.
Fight your fear when it rears up to steal your joy. Fight the lies that threaten to undermine your faith. Fight the despair by clinging to truth when your emotions tell you different. And fight the temptation to dwell over what was, by living fully where God has you.
Ride the Waves of Grief
Grief isn’t linear. You’d think each day forward would feel a little better but grief doesn’t work that way. Grief comes in waves with deep troughs. It’s hard to predict the triggers or how long the trough will last but tell yourself this on the hardest days: it won’t always feel like this.
Focus on Real Hope
Our hope in grief isn’t rooted in something but in Someone. john God WILL be faithful. He is a restorer. He promises those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy. He has as much good for you on this side of grief as he did all those days before it.
Let God Reshape Your Broken Heart
One day early in my grief, I told God as long as my heart was broken wide open, He might as well clean it out. Loss weans us off the world and helps us refocus on our heavenly hope (John McArthur). Let God use loss to reshape your heart like His.
The good news is that you will have beautiful, happy, deep-joy moments again. Slowly, slowly, the sweet warmth of memories will begin to replace your tears. The gut-wrenching grief will ebb but – there will always be a missing.
While you can move forward through grief, you never get over deep loss.
Moving forward through grief is learning to live with the love and without the loved one.
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