A man that I visit on a regular basis lost his wife to lung cancer approximately two years ago. After his wife died, he began experiencing horrible stomach pains. He went to every specialist under the sun, had a multitude of tests and tried every medication possible.
One day his doctor, who was about ready to throw his hands up, asked, “Have you talked about losing your wife?” The man stopped and said no. He had tucked those feelings and pain so far down that it had to come out somehow. When you try to ignore the powerful feelings associated with grief, they will erupt at some point. If you fail to express your grief and don’t work through that pain, both physical and psychological responses can manifest in very disruptive forms.
The Last Act of Love We Have to Give
Bob Deits, a pastoral counselor, describes grief as follows:
“Grief is the last act of love we have to give those who have died!”
That is a powerful statement. This is your chance to express your love, pain and sorrow in honor of the one you lost. I encourage you to keep their memory alive; it is your gift to them. Grieving properly is telling their story, carrying on their legacy, expressing your feelings, crying when you need to cry, remembering those memories and smiling.
There are so many ways you can commemorate the loss of your loved one. For instance, as I prepare myself to walk down the aisle later this month, I am comforted by the fact that my grandma will be close to my heart. I will be wearing her necklace.
Consider wearing a piece of your loved one’s jewelry, cooking their favorite meal, visiting them at the cemetery, planting a tree in their honor or scrap booking your memories of their life. Do whatever you need to do to keep their memory alive. THIS is your time!
Lastly, don’t get discouraged. I hear so many people that come to my Loss and Grief group say, “Just when I think I’m doing better and I think I’m getting over that ‘hump,’ something significant will remind me of them and I fall apart.” Grief is sporadic; it isn’t just an uphill climb like so many other obstacles we face in our lives.
When it comes to grieving the loss of someone dear to us, there are good and bad days, highs and lows, ups and downs. Be assured that these are not setbacks; rather it is the process of grieving. Over time those deep, dark valleys will become more shallow. Those peaks will widen until one day you will find you are on even ground again.