By Brianna Nelson
It seems to be the first words out of a person’s mouth for the weeks following the loss of a loved one—“I’m sorry” and “It will get better.” You nod and thank them for their words, but the niceties cannot adequately express the devastation of sorrow. Life is not only hard because of the loss you have experienced, it also becomes difficult when faced with the publicity of losing a loved one and seemingly empty phrases.
Grief is defined as a “deep sorrow, especially that caused by someone’s death.” But this definition of grief does not scratch the surface of the immense pain and loneliness caused by loss. Regardless of what anyone tells you, sorrow and grief are not something that you can just “get over.” Death creates a gaping hole in the people that are left behind.
Hope Edelman, author of “Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss” explains, “Someone did us all a grave injustice by implying that mourning has a distinct beginning, middle, and end.”
There is no ending to the mourning; rather, we learn to live with that mourning. Every day I get up and think about my Mom and mourn her loss. But I have learned to live my life with the pain of her loss. What was once a huge gaping hole in my heart, has now become a gaping hole with a bandage placed over it.
But what can be said that is truly comforting to someone experiencing loss?
It took me many years to understand the true meaning behind “I’m sorry.” Beyond the mere words, there is sympathy that the speaker is emphasizing to you; the comfort that they are projecting to you that means more than the words themselves.
However, the well wishes and condolences of the moment fade, and you are left with figuring out how to live life without the person you cherished.
My first coping mechanism became anger—an anger that took me quite a while to come to terms with. I was angry at God for taking my Mom away from me so early in life; I was angry at Him for making me go through life without her; I was angry at Him for causing me to resent my friends that had good relationships with their moms; and I was angry at Him for not making me strong enough to handle it all on my own.
It wasn’t until I realized that all of this anger that I was keeping inside was turning me into a person that I did not recognize; a person that I knew my Mom would not be proud of. It may have taken me several years to learn, but I began to turn towards God to gain strength to move on with my life without my Mom; to know that with His love and strength, I am strong enough to face anything.
One of my favorite verses is Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”
As I was clawing my way out of the pit of anger that I had thrown myself into, it was this verse that really stuck with me. With Christ, I can become a person that my Mom would be proud of.
Twelve years of experiencing the heartbreak of losing my Mom later, I have learned that the true comfort for those that have experienced loss is the belief that the “loss” is only temporary—there is life beyond death.
Whenever I miss my Mom, or wish that she was here, I find comfort in the fact that she is no longer experiencing any pain or suffering here on Earth, and that our love and belief in our Heavenly Father will allow us to be reunited someday.
If losing my Mother is a tropical storm that comes as the seasons change, then I will let the tears fall as often and as hard as the rain, because the tears are not only a reminder of my Mother, they are a reminder of the strength that I have to move forward with my life.
Vicki Harrison eloquently states, “Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.”
Where words fail, tears take their place. But know that even if physical tears are not shed, the heart mourns in its’ own tearful manner. It is the strength that we find in Christ to move forward in the midst of tears that shows the true power of Christ through the stages of grief.