“It hurts when they’re gone. And it doesn’t matter if it’s slow or fast, whether it’s a long drawn-out disease or an unexpected accident. When they’re gone the world turns upside down and you’re left holding on, trying not to fall off.” ~
Yesterday, I received a message that someone’s mother had passed away from the terminal illness she had been fighting. Whenever I hear about these kinds of things, I am immediately drawn back to the days that my mother and father passed away. I then think about my grandparents’ deaths and the deaths of aunts and uncles. After that, I think about family members or friends who are presently terminal or seriously ill.
The specter of death follows us at all times. Whether we expected it or not, whether we thought we were ready for it or not, when death intrudes, everything happens new and fresh. Everything seems to go into slow motion. Memory plays tricks on us. People often have a hard time remembering who came to see them or what was said. We become so involved in the passing away of a loved one that it is hard to function normally in our lives.
There are many expectations placed upon us when a loved one dies. Some of the expectations are immediate: visitation and funeral arrangements, funeral luncheons, flowers, the burial and other immediate concerns have to be arranged. Oftentimes, that means finances have to be paid out, finances that may not be immediately available. Other expectations are less immediate. One of those expectations is the grieving process.
There are many people who place unreal expectations upon those who grieve. They think a person “should be better” in a certain amount of time. Whether it be days, weeks, months, or even years, the process of grief is personal and has no time limit. To attempt to impose one on someone grieving is unfair at best and destructive at worst.
Grief is personal. Grief is intimate. Grief strains relationships. Grief can do all sorts of things depending upon the person. When someone we care about is grieving, we need to give them the support they need. One of the best supports is not to hold them to an unrealistic timetable. Let them grieve as they need. Pray for them (as well as for their loved one who has passed away).
Knowing someone who is grieving gives us a chance to process our own grief. It helps us to attempt to put it into the perspective of our faith. Perhaps, when the death of our loved one first happened, we found it too hard to think about eternal life, reunion in heaven, and the like. Perhaps we were too angry with God to speak with Him. As time goes by, we can come to God and ask Him to fill us with the hope of resurrection even as we pray for those who may be facing present loss in their lives.
One day, our pain will be taken away. That day will be when we enter eternity. Until then, pain — emotional and spiritual — is part and parcel of the realm of this earth. We ask God for the grace to endure what comes our way and to give our loved ones eternal rest.
FAITH ACTION: Pray for those whose grief is so raw and palpable that they may have a hard time functioning so that they may find the consolation and hope that they need.