The last day that you spend with somebody will forever be ingrained in the corners of your mind. These images, while sometimes comforting, often prevent people from being able to mourn gracefully. There are many different stages of grief. Unfortunately, many of us find ourselves “stuck” in a single portion of the process. I know this from experience: IT HURTS. Not only does it cripple your emotions, but it also has the ability to affect your overall health and relationships.
Mourning dis ~ Gracefully
As I discussed in an earlier post, I lost my only surviving grandparent only a year ago. You can get a bit of that story here http://www.fromwater2wine.com/blessed-instead-stressed-christmas-traditions/
I know I’ve talked about being a “mess” before. During the summer of 2016 I was the holiest of all messes. After losing my “Poppa”, I began the grieving process in a pretty standard way. There was the initial denial, followed by a week of sleepless nights and ugly crying. The “fog” set in after the service…that dream-like trance during which you get things done but aren’t exactly sure how.
I was attempting to help my family get his house cleaned out and ready for sale while planning a wedding. Everything in my life was being transformed, and I don’t generally deal well with change. So, I did the only things that made sense to me. I ate patty melts and fries. Every. Day. There was a bottle of wine with me everywhere I went. I was so caught up in trying to keep myself in control, that I was unknowingly breaking the rules of mourning.
If you choose to mourn alone, you are not taking advantage of the most powerful recovery tool available. When Jesus began the Sermon on the Mount, he introduced the beatitudes. Contained in his words is a promise that we can all lean into during times of grief. Found in Matthew 5:4, it states:
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”
To be clear, this is not a guarantee that your problems will go away, or that you will be spinning obliviously in the sunshine with flowers brushing against your hands. What it does mean, however, is that you have a heavenly father who understands your pain. He knows exactly what loss feels like, and he wants to help you walk through that. For this reason, the majority of our efforts to comfort ourselves will be futile. For me, this meant completely changing my perceptions about grieving.
Learning to Mourn Gracefully
So…I decided to put down the vino and fried foods for a while and be comforted. I talked with members of my bible study group and started writing more. Instead of focusing on the fact that I could no longer hug my Poppa, I chose to be comforted by the memory of our final moments together. On that day, we drank coffee (his having two sugars, mine only one). We talked about everything from my job to the upcoming wedding. Finally, I held his hand while he took a nap.
After the “fog” of my summer and the excitement of my wedding was over, I came home to a wreck. I hadn’t cleaned my house in months. Bits and pieces of reception decorations were strewn about, and boxes full of things from my Poppa’s house lined the walls. Just when I found myself about to go down the patty melt and wine rabbit hole again, I stopped. Instead, I walked out to the porch swing. The very one on which we would sit together, my legs up and him swinging us. I chose to be comforted, and that is the choice I will continue to make.
I would love to hear about your “porch swing” moments!