A lovely woman at my church recently lent me a book entitled Grieving the Loss of Someone You Love (at the amazon bookstore here). It has already been a tremendous blessing.
The book is made up of many small chapters and the reader is encouraged to find the chapters that best suit them that particular day. As soon as I got home and cracked open the book I found myself gravitating towards two chapters entitled "Just Tell Me the Rules" and "Define 'Normal". You see, figuring out if my grieving process is normal or appropriate for a Christian has been one of my biggest struggles since losing Evie. Am I supposed to feel this sad? Am I supposed to cry this much? Am I expected to jump right back into life with both feet?
But this book has given me some clarity. It has been written by two Christian authors who have each lost loved ones and have studied loss for quite some time. I feel very confident that their words hold great truth and I have been comforted to learn that everything I am feeling is within normal limits.
Since it has comforted me so to learn that my feelings are normal, I thought it might be comforting to others who have encountered loss if I described what my grief looks like on a day to day basis. Maybe it will make you feel "normal" that you are dealing with your loss in a similar way as another person on this planet.
So, grief looks like ...
Lack of concentration and direction in my daily tasks even with a to-do list (if I can manage to make one).
Me crying almost every day, often multiple times a day.
Me needing quite a bit of time to myself to reflect, think, or pray or just be alone.
Me often wishing that I had no responsibilities and could just run away to a tropical location and spend weeks in solitude.
A very sensitive heart that is unable to watch or read anything even remotely sad.
Very sensitive feelings that are unable to brush off conflicts or irritations with the same ease as they used to.
Repeatedly checking facebook or my email to see if anyone has sent me an encouraging message or just to escape reality.
Feeling pretty normal for most of the day until something unexpected happens and I don't have the emotional reserve to adapt appropriately.
Feeling a little like the old Sarah for a day or two and then crying uncontrollably for a couple of days.
Being unable to explain what I'm feeling when my husband asks me what is wrong. I usually tell him "Nothing out of the ordinary". He knows what that means.
Fatigue. Like, crazy tiredness. Not quite as bad as first trimester placenta-growing fatigue, but pretty close.
Needing to keep my schedule more empty.
Feeling like I don't have a lot to give others.
Being afraid to hold a friend's baby because I'm not sure if I'll be able to without completely melting down. And a small part of me feels afraid that I would be betraying Evie by holding another baby.
Having very few words.
Lack of appetite.
Keeping my family and home functioning and having little energy for anything else.
Daydreaming about Evie all the time.
Occasionally opening up Evie's memory box and clutching her little white outfit to my chest and trying to inhale all the Evie-smell from it (johnson and johnson's lavender baby lotion).
Waking up some mornings and wishing I could just stay in bed because it would be easier than actually "doing" life.
If you've felt any or all of these in the wake of loss please be comforted that you are not alone.
I also wanted to share two very valuable insights I have acquired from in the above-mentioned book:
1. Remember it takes time to heal - lots of it. Healing is your primary job just now. Be gentle with yourself. You deserve to take whatever amount of time is necessary for you to heal fully. p.33
2. On page 39 the authors liken an emotional wound to a broken leg. A person with a broken leg is not expected to walk on it until it has been fully healed. The same is true for emotional wounds - it takes time for healing and you can't expect yourself to do certain things while your heart is freshly broken.
So the flurry of emotions and sensitive heart-feelings evoked from the grieving process are normal*. Take comfort in that. And also feel at liberty to slow life down for as long as it takes you to heal. The business will be there when you're ready to return to it.
Lord Jesus please be with those who need to hear these words right now. Please comfort them and let them know it's ok to take time to grieve and heal. And please guide them for the appropriate way to do so in their lives. Thank you for being the God of all comfort. In Your Name, Amen.
*However, if you feel like your emotions are out of control and you are perhaps even contemplating suicide please, please seek professional help. Tell a trusted pastor or friend and they can help point you in the right direction. That path is a dark one and must not be taken lightly.