How do we heal, grieve after loss?

How do you heal after loss? Loss of a loved one can draw us closer or distance us from Christ. Immediately following a loss we are comforted in the close press of family and friends, gifts of food, flowers, memorials, and a community that gathers around us in love and support. But then friends and family go home and the one left with a broken heart is left to enter a new and strange season – a season when one of the persons who has given meaning to our life is gone. So, how do we cope, work through grief, and heal after loss?

There are spaces in the mind, the days and nights, the seasons that continue to change – in a world where everyone seems to be back to normal – except the one who is healing from loss. Often, when we least expect it, the pain and the preoccupation come back – even when time has passed and healing is happening. A trip back to Topsail on May 27th, exactly five months after James passed away was hard but helped me heal as I walked down the beach and watched the wonder of God’s creation.

The rolling crash of ocean waves opened that space in my mind with memories of Tim and me (my husband of 31 years) and James and me (my husband of 2 years) rising inside like the sun overhead. That same sun lit up our world in wonderful seasons of triumph and times of trials and tears. My feelings were tangled up inside as were the crossing waves that caused swimmers difficulty in standing firm. The enemy seized an opportunity to try and toss me to and fro like the waves, but I remembered God’s Word and warning not to succumb. I stood firm on my feet with a smile that said, “My strength comes from God who made this ocean, sand, sky, sun, and seasons. My love for my Father, family and friends grows greater every day. I am thankful for healing seasons and tender moments that move us closer to Christ. Missing our loved ones but rejoicing that they are already in heaven leaves our broken hearts mended as only the Master can do.

With tears streaming, I stopped in the sand and remembered the sacrifice Jesus made for me – for you – and I praised Him as I walked and talked to Him. While working through grief, talking it out with God is good. Being honest helps the process, for He knows what we often cover up, deny, or keep stuck securely inside our hearts. Unloading grief on everyone who crosses our paths or posting for the whole world to read is not wise. Taking heartaches, hallelujahs, and hurdles to our Maker, the One who always listens and sends healing after losses, empowers us to move forward in faith,

My grandson, Connor, yelled from the water’s edge, “Nana, come ride the waves with me”!

Choosing to enjoy time with Connor and Corie rather than drown in pity made our day delightful. With giggles, groans, and going under water like volunteers in a dunking booth, we played for hours with healing happening in my heart. Riding the waves was like grieving. Some waves gently passed with ease while others towered over our heads – tossing us to and fro. Some days of healing after a loss gently pass while others knock us down without warning. Getting up with grit and gusto to keep on going helps healing happen.

Making a choice to enjoy time together at Topsail with my grandchildren brought me closer to them and to the One who can turn losses into blessings. Driving home gave time to reflect on reasons to be thankful – even in seasons when losses loom. Recounting the love of my Father and family overpowered me like the crashing waves had done earlier in the day. Reciting a quote that helps me stand firm when pounded by waves of grief is the perfect ending for this message.

“Don’t miss what we have because we miss what we lost”! Those powerful words remind us to keep living and allowing God to make us a blessing to others…even when our broken hearts are being put back together – piece by piece – over a period of time.

The Carolina blue sky showcased white fluffy clouds that drew my thoughts heavenward. Joy filled my heart with assurance that we do not lose loved ones when they pass away and know Jesus as their personal Savior. They wait for us in heaven while we complete our calling here.

Let us trust the Lord to turn our losses into blessings and finish our races well!