My friend, Lindsey Osterhoff, wrote the following….
This is what I know about grief…it doesn’t always strike when and how we expect it. Sometimes it sneaks up on us. Otherwise, how do you explain being devastated by the sudden loss of an amazing dad and not shedding a tear for hours? Or days?
When the grief finally hit a few weeks later, it didn’t make sense to me. Or anyone around me. So I shut it off thinking there was something wrong with me. After all, if I couldn’t grieve when it happened, why would I grieve later? Now I believe that my initial lack of grief was God’s way of protecting my head and my heart from being overwhelmed with more than I could handle at that initial point. It was a gradual process of coming to terms with my loss.
Even after we’ve experienced a loss, whether we have grieved or we haven’t, there will be other losses to come up in the future. It’s just an unfortunate part of life on Earth. But if we allow ourselves to grieve in whatever ways we need to, we tend not to carry around the baggage from one loss to another.
Here are the three most important things I have learned about grief:
#1-Everyone’s grief looks different so don’t let other people put limitations on you. Everyone needs something different to get through their own grief, so just because something works for one person doesn’t mean it will work for you. People want so much to help those around them who are hurting that they offer suggestions like “You just need to pick yourself up and keep on going”. They mean well, but sometimes, we really just need to sit in our grief in the moments that we feel it. Although it may be difficult and painful to look at pictures or videos of the person that is gone, it’s a good kind of painful because it helps you reach a level of acceptance in the release of the emotion. Feel free to listen to suggestions that folks offer on how to deal with grief, but if you try something and it doesn’t work for you, don’t feel like your grieving is wrong. You are entitled to your grief and to express it.
#2-Don’t put limitations on yourself. It’s so easy to fall into the line of thinking that “It has been [however long], so shouldn’t I be over this by now?” Some days are easier than others. Some days are harder than others. That is just the way it goes with grief. So cry on the hard days, be blessed by the easy days and laugh as often as you can. Even after almost 10 years, I still have hard days that sneak up on me and now I finally understand that it is ok to cry and say, “I just miss my dad”.
#3-It can be so healing to write it down! The best gift I bought myself in the days following my dad’s death was a journal. Again, I didn’t limit myself on what went into the journal, I just wrote. Sometimes that meant writing what I was feeling. Other times it meant writing down every memory of my dad that I could think of. I have lists of specific things he used to say, things like “Don’t throw the equipment, it’s not the equipment’s fault” and “Promise only what you can deliver, then deliver more than you promise”. When my kids read the journal they will get to know their grandpa, things he did and loved. They will know that he was funny and quirky and loved his family passionately. What better gift can I give to my kids and my dad than to allow them to have a relationship without ever meeting in this life? And in turn, it’s an equally great gift that I have given to myself.