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How To Grieve When Everyone Else Moves On

While grieving after loss is normal and necessary for healing, glorifying grief is unhealthy and inhibits recovery. I had never heard of “glorifying grief” until I read how my pastor addressed it in his book, The Journey Through Heartache. Even then, I never wholly grasped this concept until I myself suffered extreme grief.

My mom was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 57. In the three years that followed, I watched as she suffered through multiple illnesses. Her life was consequently cut short by medical malpractice at the age of 60. Not only did I suffer the loss of my best friend and mother but I also felt robbed by the doctor who knowingly ignored her suffering and left it untreated. I was catapulted into the expected emotions of grief, along with battling the added feelings of anger and betrayal.

            Acts of kindness and the support of others were like balm to my wounded soul as I journeyed through the stages of grief. However, they were not a replacement for God’s comfort. I felt supported by those around me who showed their love, but I knew it would not last. Only God’s comfort could continue to sustain me throughout the months and years that were to come.

            After a few months had passed, others continued on in their lives while I still slogged through my emotions to find a “new normal.” I understood that my pain could not be felt by others, and while their sympathies still existed, it seemed unkind to put my grief on display to remind them that I was still hurting. It was then that I realized the necessity of taking my grief to God on the days when it seemed unbearable.

            While this was no easy feat in the beginning, taking my grief to God time and time again eventually became a habit. I no longer craved or needed the sympathies of others because I was being comforted by God. This did not mean the hurt was less or that it went away each time I spoke to God about it. However, it allowed me to hurt uninhibited with the only One Who could really understand. It prevented me from placing unrealistic and unreasonable expectations on people for the comfort I needed.

            Over the months and then years, I began to heal and learned to thrive again in spite of my loss. I grew closer to God. I understood my Saviour more than I ever could have before suffering loss. My ugly mess of grief transformed into a beautiful renewing of my heart and spirit. Although I still always treasure when others remember my mom, I do not crave their sympathy; I do not rely on their acknowledgment of my loss and grief for survival.

            Every year on the anniversary of my mom’s death, I write a few paragraphs in remembrance to post on my social media. This is my “flowers on her grave” since the place where she is buried is too far away to visit. While I express my feelings of loss, I also try to show how grief has made me a better tool in the hands of God. I want others to see that, while grieving is normal and necessary, healing is possible when grief is not glorified but instead given to God.

He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. – Psalm 147:3

Initially, you will need the care and support of others in the early days after suffering loss. God has given you these people––family, church family, and friends––to help you through those first dark days. Then, when life moves on and others seemed to have forgotten your loss, there is a place you are meant to take your pain in order to one day achieve healing: to the Man of Sorrows, Jesus. 

Others do not need to be reminded that you are hurting. It is unfair and foolish to constantly reach out to people for comfort and sympathy if you expect to heal the way God wants you to heal. Resist the urge to put your pain on display at every turn. Instead, take it to the feet of your Savior. Allow Him to comfort you and to teach you through your journey through heartache. You can find a “new normal” and experience life’s joys once again. God wants to love, comfort, and teach you through your loss; and in addition, He can help you to grow and thrive. Do not get swept up into glorifying your grief lest you become depended on the sympathy of others. God wants to transform your messy grief into a beautiful life that glorifies Him. Healing is possible at the feet of the Man of Sorrows Who understands our pain like no other.

He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief:.. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows:.. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. ­– Isaiah 53:3-5

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