The grieving journey is a trip we never planned to take but it is a trip we find we must take. It is a journey that has many pitfalls and trials along the way. And it is only by a commitment to intentional actions that we can hope to successfully move on in life.
There are several issues we must understand as we grieve. Does grieving mean forgetting? Do we need to act like the person who died never lived? No. But it does mean that as we journey down this path we will find we have moved from emotional remembering to historical remembering.
Another thing we don’t understand is the uniqueness of our relationship to the person who has died. While people are people all over the world, there is no one exactly like you and no one exactly like the one who died. And the relationship you had with them was unique in many different ways. That is why when we say, I know what you are going through, we don’t. Only God is wise enough and big enough to know us all as individuals and can know the bond we had with the one now dead. Understanding this uniqueness makes it comforting to remember our relationship to them. It is personal, private, and precious.
Through the grief journey there are goals we must try to achieve. It is not sequential and it is not a series of steps or stages to check off as you reach them. But they are sign posts to help us know that we are on the right path. We all must learn to accept that the person is dead and never coming back to us. We must learn to express the raw and uncontrolled emotions that swirl inside of us. We will need to establish a new identity separate from the one we no longer have. And we need to trust that even when we don’t feel anything or see any evidence God is real and relevant and central to our grief journey.
There are things to be aware of. People will try to fix you or rush you. Do not let them. And do not put time limits on yourself. You will be ambushed by grief. Things unexpected and irrational will hit you out of nowhere. You will survive these ambushes. It may get worse and it may get better. You will not know until you are beyond this to know that. And numbing your pain to avoid it is unsatisfying and unhealthy and can be deadly.
How long will it take to feel better? As long as it takes for you. But rest assured that it will not take forever and grieving does not last forever. You may feel alone and abandoned, like an orphan. Jesus promises to never leave us or forsake us. Ever.