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12 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me About Grief

By: beth marshall

Why do terrible things happen to extraordinary people?

I wish we knew the answer to that question. Whether you’ve been touched by personal loss, or maybe the global news is keeping you up at night, the reality is—grief happens. And even if we understood why, it’s still hard to know where to turn when a piece of our life puzzle is missing.

So what do we do when our world’s been turned upside down by grief?

In 1998, my family had no idea we would lose three of our closest people in the next four years, including both of our parents.   

12 Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me Then

  1. Grief can feel like swimming in peanut butter.
  2. Some things words cannot fix. When your heart has been shattered, a warm hug can be more comforting than a thousand words.
  3. Well-meaning people say ridiculous things. For example, “At least he’s young, he can marry again.” Seriously?
  4. Sometimes grief feels like crazy. Just because your sleep, appetite, mood, and entire world seem jacked up right now, you are not crazy. You are grieving. Thankfully, the pain will not always be this intense.
  5. Writing is free therapy. A blank journal is an excellent place for unfiltered, angry, happy, or confused thoughts you are thinking, and nobody has to see it.
  6. Psalm 34:18 promises the Lord really is close to the brokenhearted. He really will save you when you’re crushed in spirit.
  7. Just say yes. People want to help you, but may not know how. Make a list of ways someone could help. Maybe doing yard work, watching the kids or delivering dinner. Then, when the inevitable “Call if you need anything” offer comes, text your list to the caller. Saying yes to support will also remind you you’re not alone on this journey.
  8. Spend more time with people who energize you, and less time with people who exhaust you—even if you’re related to them.  
  9. Rest. When Clayton King was mourning the death of his dad, he set aside an hour a day to be alone, be still, and rest. Grief is exhausting. While it’s impossible to grieve 24/7, designating specific time alone can help.
  10. It is OK to always miss the person you have lost. As one grief expert says, “Closure is for bank accounts, not for love accounts.”
  11. Make a plan for the holidays. Both of my parents’ deaths  happened within weeks of the holidays. I remember the temptation to pull the down comforter over my head and wake up in January. You don’t have to do that. This article has some helpful tips for navigating the holidays.
  12. Lean in to your faith. Meeting with the Lord early in the morning can calm an anxious heart. If you’ve never asked Jesus into your life, check out Romans 10:9. I remember the day I prayed, “Jesus, I don’t know if you are real or not; but if you are I need you. Please come into my life.”  And He did.

If you’re feeling isolated in sorrow, please let a trusted friend, care team volunteer or counselor know. If you’re in South Carolina, you can locate a NewSpring campus here.

What is one step you could take today toward hope and healing?

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