I am sure that at this point in your life you have learned what grief and sorrow are. All of us will experience them at various times in our lives because they are a part of our mortal existence. Those feelings of pain associated with grief cannot and should not be avoided. Allowing yourself to grieve is important to the healing process and can lead to tremendous personal growth if we allow that to happen. Sometimes, in the midst of your grief, you may feel that you can never be happy again. But, I can attest to knowing that joy and happiness will come again, even though the grief can still well up from time to time. (See Psalm 30:5)
There are two things that are important to recognize about grief. First, Lance B. Wickman has said that grief is a by-product of love.
"One cannot selflessly love another person and not grieve at his suffering or eventual death. The only way to avoid the grief would be to not experience the love; and it is love that gives life its richness and meaning."
I remember attending the funeral of a cousin's toddler son. His grandfather, my husband's uncle, was speaking at the service. I recall his words when he related that people would say that it was so sad that the family was only able to have this young child for such a short time and his response was that they felt so blessed to have had him with them at all, even if it was for a short time. They had him and loved him and they wouldn't trade that for not having the grief and pain.
Second, grief does not indicate a lack of faith. Steven Eastmond, a licensed clinical social worker has said that we can feel both sadness and peace at the same time as we experience grief. Our family has certainly experienced this as we have grieved that loss of Baby Elodie. You can read about Lindsey's thoughts on that in this post.
One of the things that is wonderful about funerals and the gathering of family and friends after the death of a loved one is that surprisingly we can laugh about the wonderful parts of their lives, review those tender moments with them that we cherish and feel the peace of knowing that they are no longer in pain or suffering, but that they are with a loving Heavenly Father. We grieve because we miss them, and we will miss them throughout our lives. But the funeral helps us realize that we can also be happy knowing that they are in a better place and we will see them again.
With those two things about grief understood, I want to share with you ways that our family has found to be happy again, after experiencing the loss of parents, children, siblings and other family members. People we have loved and still love.
Actively Seek Comfort From The Holy Ghost
In Matthew 5:4 we are told, "Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted." We have found that throughout the experience of Elodie's diagnosis, birth and death, as we have fasted and prayed for help, understanding and comfort, our prayers have been answered along the way. We have felt peace and love from a loving Heavenly Father who has influenced our understanding of things eternal. Our faith is so important in our lives and it makes me wonder how people cope with such sorrow without it. If you are searching for peace and comfort, you can find it through prayer and the desire to know for yourself. Here is a good place to start. We have talked about what we believe in the past. Some of those posts are here, here and here.
If you already have a church or belief system, remember what you have learned and lean on that knowledge for comfort and peace.
Allow Yourself to Grieve
Elodie's big sister, Emily, would get so upset when she saw her mother or me or anyone tear up and cry after Elodie passed away. I loved that my daughter would tell her that it was okay to be sad and to cry. Emily started saying these words to herself, "It is okay to be sad sometimes." Lindsey would sing the words from Daniel Tiger to her, "It's okay to be sad sometimes, little by little you'll feel better again." Those "little by little" words are very important. You will not feel better all of the way right away, But when you do begin to feel better, it is okay! You aren't doing a disservice to your loved one by being happy again. Don't you think that they would want you to be happy? Of course they would. I lost my Dad and my niece both in one weekend back in 1978. There are still moments today when I remember them and weep a little bit over that very sad time and the fact that I miss them so much. But, "little by little" I did feel better again in spite of having that little bit of heartache inside me that comes out once in awhile. I guess I should have titled this section "Allow Yourself to Grieve and To be Happy Again!"
Be Aware of and Record Tender Mercies
When you open yourself up to feeling the Spirit for comfort, you will notice all of the little things that show God's love for you. For example, here are some things that I have seen happen in my life that have shown me that God knows me and loves me:
Those are just a few highlights of things we have experienced in our lives. They continue to bring us comfort and peace in the knowledge that God is mindful of us. A big part of healing is recognizing these tender mercies and feeling gratitude for them. Gratitude for having had the opportunity to know and love the person you are missing. Gratitude for the peace and the promises from a loving Heavenly Father. One example of this that I have always held dear came when I attended the funeral of a dear friend who had died of cancer. Her daughter spoke at the funeral about the end of her life and the conversation that she had with her. Her daughter asked her if she ever asked, "Why me?" as she went through this cancer experience. Her mother answered, "Yes!" Then she went on to explain that she asked why she had been blessed with her wonderful husband and children. Why had she been allowed to have the wonderful opportunities in her life that she had had. I can't express it as well as her daughter did at the time, but those words impacted me powerfully and have helped me to try to be more filled with gratitude and positivity for the things I have in my life.
One of the things that helps us overcome sorrow is to turn outward to serve others. The hospice nurse told us that one of the reasons she does what she does is to help others get through the grief that she had also experienced. One of Lindsey's friends asked her to pray for him when he was going through something difficult. He later apologized because he had been unaware of her trial. LIndsey responded that she had been so glad to be able to pray for him. So many had fasted and prayed for her and Elodie that it was good to do the same for someone else.
Sometimes, when people express their sympathy to you during sorrowful times, it is apparent that they aren't sure what they should say and they almost seem to be grieving as much as you are. One way to serve them and also to help ourselves is to offer them words of comfort as you relate the blessings you have felt through your trial or to express your love to them or to simply forgive them their ineptness and allow them to grieve with you.
As time goes on, you will find opportunities to serve others who are also going through sorrow and your empathy and listening ear will be a comfort to them and to you.
One reason that I am writing this post about grief today is in the hope that if there is anyone out there struggling with sorrow and pain, you can know that you are not alone, but that there is hope and joy still on your horizon. Lindsey expressed the following in her writings about Elodie: " It may be hard to believe that losing your child can be a spiritual experience, but I am here to tell you that it is, if you let it. Yes, you will feel the deepest darkest grief you have ever known. I will miss Elodie for the rest of my life. But I have also felt the closeness of my Savior Jesus Christ, and have felt deeply the truth of His Atonement and Resurrection, and the promise that it brings that death is not the end." I know that her words are true. Joy and Happiness can come again if you let them. "Little by little, you'll feel better again."
I love you. Thank you for your love and support.
Creators of Hot Cocoa Bombs! (copyrighted)
Helen Reynolds: Mother of six children , grandmother to eleven! I love to cook, craft and create things and I especially love doing that with my family, So, when my lawyer daughter, Lindsey, my artist daughter, Madalynn, and I came up with the idea of Hot Cocoa Bombs, this blog was born. Then, one more daughter, with her technical and science skills, plus creativity has joined in to round us out! Read more about us here!