Things to Remember As You Grieve

Excerpt from COPING WITH LIFE AFTER YOUR MATE DIES by Donald C. Cushenbery & Rita Crossley Cushenbery

Whether or not your mate was a Christian, the present hurt of his or her absence is still very evident.  For some people, the intense grieving process may last six months to two years; for others, dealing with the loss may continue until their own deaths.

There are several basic principles that you should remember as you deal with your grief.

1.  It is both proper and sensible to grieve.  It may bother some people to see you cry, but that is their problem, not yours!  God gives us tears and understands that they are a necessary part of healing.  They do not imply that you do not trust in God.  Some people have the idea that they should not show outward signs of grieving because some of their friends might think that they lacked faith or courage to live a triumphant life.  Furthermore, some persons may “assign” a length of time for grieving.

2.  It is not a sign of personal weakness to seek help from others during your bereavement.  The death of a loved one constitutes a major event in the life of any caring human being.  Unless you are exceptional and are endowed with precise coping skills, there is a good chance you will need help in adjusting to a new life.

3.  The crisis of grief may serve as a stimulus for you to get involved in creative activities, both in and out of the church. 

4.  Your grief is different in significant ways from that experienced by others.  Depression and the feeling of isolation are common emotions after the death of a spouse, but no two people have exactly the same feelings.

5.  God has not deserted you.  When someone is taken from us after sharing our lives for many years, there is a tendency to feel that God’s loving power has deserted us.

6.  Time and patience will be partial relievers for your present hurt.  The death of a mate may seem to be both untimely and unfair, but be assured that God will be with you for the remainder of your life, however long that is.

7.  You should not expect any words of comfort that come from friends or relatives to reverse your grief suddenly and miraculously.  Although pain does eventually subside and the hurt slowly heals, you have scars left to remind you of this traumatic event.  Will life ever be the same?  Of course it will not be.  You can never replace the mate you have lost, because no one else has his or her identical physical or emotional characteristics.

8.  The age of a mate when he or she dies has little to do with the amount or kind of grief you may encounter.  If you are well past middle age, do not let others minimize the painful significance of your mate’s death.  Your situation may be different from that of a younger person, but the hurt is just as intense.

9.  The grief resulting from the death of a mate may tempt you into believing that your faith was not strong enough.  We should not place ourselves in the position of judging another person’s faith or understanding God’s plan.

10.  You should not expect your friends and relatives to undertake impossible tasks with regard to easing your grief.  Many people will say, “If you need anything, just let me know.”  There are many things that they cannot, in fact, do.  If there are specific things that friends CAN do, however, you should tell them.

11.  Some friends may try to lessen your grief by making statements to explain the death of your spouse.  When someone we love is gone, it is difficult to dismiss our memories of them and pretend they deserve less grief than another person who has left us.  Don’t let anyone minimize the importance of the life of your mate.  If you want to talk about your grief, do it.  Your friends who love you unconditionally will understand.  The fundamental fact is that a large majority of surviving mates will grieve for a lifetime at some level.  The best thing your friends can do for you is to tell you that they love you and are praying for you.

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5 responses

  1. This is very helpful. I lost my soul mate 7 weeks ago. He was only 47. It feels like my heart has been ripped out. I don’t know how a human heart can go through this kind of pain and continue to function. However, I am starting to lean on Jesus again to help me bear this pain. I too felt deserted and even betrayed by Jesus for not healing Kevin and taking him home. I shocked and worried a lot of family and friends with those feelings. But it was something I had to work through and am still working through. My faith took a smashing blow when Kevin died. it isn’t something you get back overnight. I take life one day at a time now. I am the ultimate planner. Used to plan everything months even years in advanced. Now my future without Kevin is too bleak to look into. Leaving all my tomorrows to Jesus.

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    • Vickey, I am so very, very sorry for the very recent loss of your dear husband. I have to say that I still struggle with the same feelings that you are struggling with even though I am further ahead on this grief journey than you. My faith was also shattered and I, too, was the ultimate plan ahead person. That definitely has changed for me. I can tell you that I don’t question God as much anymore. Mostly I say now, “I don’t understand this, God” instead of “Why?!! How could You do this to me?!!” My prayers still pretty much consist of “Help me, Lord!” and “Thank You, Jesus”. I never stopped loving Him. After all, He’s all I have now. This all is something that I am still working through one moment at a time.

      I can also tell you that there will come a time when that deep, deep soul pain in the very depths of your heart will begin to lessen. I remember wondering how my heart could bear such great pain and how I could live with it. Just keep breathing and if you ever want or need to talk to another widow who “gets it”, I am available. You can email me at candyfeathers@gmail.com

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  2. Vickey, one thing that I did figure out after awhile was that even if God gave me the reason why my husband’s life ended at age 58, it wouldn’t satisfy me or be good enough for me because I still wouldn’t be able to understand it with this finite mind of mine.

    Also, don’t let those who have never lost a spouse tell you it’s time to move on. We tend to put on our mask for others when we walk out our front doors. For those who don’t truly understand the loss of a spouse, it’s just easier for us to wear that mask so that we don’t have to deal with what they might have to say about how we are handling our grief. Remember that they have no clue what we are going through and their flippant words can do more to hurt us than help us in this vulnerable time. There will be many even in the church who think they know better than the widow how she should grieve and how long she should grieve. They want us to put on this super spiritual happy face and pretend that our hearts are not totally broken.

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  3. I could not catch my breath for a couple of months and thought I had heart problems. I had tests and everything. I was ok. Grief has very real physical properties as well as emotional. I don’t know how I go on day to day. I has to be the grace of God. I know my Mom who has been gone 32 years, and my husband who has been gone 4 months, and my grandparents, and my baby son Todd, who was still born, and my aunts and uncles, all pray for us in heaven each day. i feel it. I try to look past the void…I try to see them…but they are where we will all go someday. Yet for now we have tasks, and joys yet to share…with those who are still here with us as well as those who are there…

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    • My heart was so heavy with grief and pain that I wondered how it could keep on beating. My adrenals were completely crashed. Yes, grief has very real physical properties and it IS only by the grace of God that we are able to keep putting one foot in front of the other one moment at a time. It is only for the joy that is set before us and knowing that there are those cheering us on from the heavenly balconies that we have hope and the will to go on.

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