Grieving is like seeing everything through a fog and it is not easy to explain. Some people tend to avoid talking to friends who are grieving.
Either they do not know what to say, are afraid of upsetting their friend, or perhaps the whole subject of grieving is scary to the observer.
Recently, I talked with a close friend who is in her first year of widowhood. She has already passed a couple of ‘firsts’ but one day something triggered her into deep grief.
I remembered my first year of grieving
I put it this way because grieving never stops. It changes as we adjust to life without the person we are grieving for, but it is always there. Always being vulnerable to unexpected triggers.
It is like the line in Song of Songs…
Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards
In what way do ‘little foxes’ have to do with grieving?
As most of us who have been through the grieving process will tell you – as a ‘first’ approaches, we prepare for it. We know it is the first of the ‘markers’ of the year without that special person. But there are other, unexpected things. Like seeing something in a shop, a little cake in a bakery, or a magazine or postcard and catching oneself in time before buying it. He or she is no longer here to buy it for.
My friend found herself crying for no reason… but it was one of those reasons, or something similar.
Then there are the ‘coulda’, ‘wouda’, ‘shoulda’ moments
In my first year, someone told me that she climbed into the hospital bed and lay beside her husband as he prepared to exit his life.
Up jumped ‘coulda’ and ‘shoulda’.
I entertained them for a while. It had been so long since we even hugged. I kissed him on his head usually. The truth entered. My husband had been fighting to breathe for weeks by then. If I had laid beside him, or tried to hold him, it would have made him worse, not better.
Sometimes it is harder than others to deal with those three ‘siren’ enchantresses trying to draw the vulnerable griever deeper into sadness and regret. A dear friend told me from the start not to entertain those feelings… but they sneak in.
As with everything in life, a choice has to be made. Choose to follow those ‘sirens’, or choose to accept that there is no point in heading down that road.
Sometimes we say that we did not choose. Sadly, that is a choice too. We choose NOT to choose.
The Bible urges us to ‘Choose life’
See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.
Deuteronomy 30: 15, 19
And sometimes that is difficult. Sometimes the person grieving wants to die too.
Until my journey is over, I pray that I will make ‘right’ choices, refuse the things I cannot change, and work on helping where I can to make the journey of others a little more pleasant.
The first time you have a coffee on your own is hard. But look around. There are quite a number of people alone at a table with their cup of coffee or tea. Smile if the other person looks at you.
Grieving is lonely
Why not smile at someone else walking alone as you pass them in the street. It might be the only smile they see that day.
And don’t avoid a friend who is grieving. If you don’t know what to say, tell them that.
Some people avoid mentioning the ‘deceased person’s name’ to the friend who is grieving. In most instances this is wrong. The husband, wife, child, or parent existed – to avoid mentioning the name is almost as if they never did.