Staying Afloat — grateful, yet grieving

Grieving is an individual experience for each of us.  When you’ve lost a loved one, each person in the family will grieve differently and in their own way.  There is a uniqueness to how we grieve that makes it our journey alone.  When I was in counseling after my husband died, my therapist said, “You are in the same park on a different path”, when describing how my journey was different than my two adult children. So how do we not feel so alone in our grief journey?  How do we keep from sinking further into the abyss of grief?

Here are some thoughts to keep us afloat:

1.     Find a few safe people to talk with.  Seek a therapist or find a grief support group.  I found both helpful in my first and second year after my husband died.  GriefShare is an excellent program found at local churches.

2.    Have people pray for you.  It’s something they are probably already doing.  The prayers of others can be an air pump to keep your life raft afloat.  When people ask what they can do, tell them to pray.  It makes a difference to you and to them.

3.    Let people help you.  If they offer, it means they want to.  Whether it’s a meal, or a task to be completed, giving yourself permission to be a receiver is a big step.  It’s humbling and necessary.  It’s a demonstration of care and concern from others.

4.    Walk, move and get outdoors.  Physical exercise makes us feel better emotionally.  Five months after my husband died, I joined a gym.  It became another way for me to stay afloat in my boat.  I made myself go, when I didn’t feel like it and always felt better afterwards.

5.    Read the Psalms of lament.  There are so many words of comfort found in the Psalms of lament.  David wrote out of the depths of his heart; with cries he would direct toward God. In Psalm 13, he cries out, “How long, O Lord?”.  I found words that reflected my own pain as I read further to find David turning to God and finding hope.

Grieving can feel like we are sinking as we try to row to shore in our life raft.  There is hope in knowing we are not alone.  We can find hope in community and in connection with God.

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Used with permission from Pam Luschei.

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