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What to do with the Unwanted, the Inescapable, and the Inextricable

“The flowers are still alive!” my husband exclaimed as we pulled up in front of our son’s grave.

However, I didn’t share his enthusiasm. As he stepped out of the car to water the flowers, the oppressive heat—and sadness--poured in.

“The flowers are still alive!” The words echoed in my mind.

But he’s not.

My eyes filled with tears as pain filled my heart.

I looked around the cemetery. As far as I could see, gravestones of various shapes, sizes, and colors presided over patches of grassy plots.

A lot of people have died … and a lot of loved ones have grieved.

While every person’s grief is unique, grief is universal. Common even. If you live long enough, you will experience deep grief.

Whether it’s the preschooler who lost her mother in a fatal car accident, the middle-aged couple who lost their son to a drug overdose, or an elderly man who lost his wife in her sleep, grief hurts.

When something hurts, we want it fixed.

Although grief is common, when it invades our lives we’re as comfortable dealing with it as if we had an elephant living in our kitchen. Here’s a few thoughts that may help you or someone you know who is facing grief.

First, the don’ts.

Don’t deny it. Grief is real and denial doesn’t make it go away. It will just cause more problems later.

Don’t rush it. You may want to have it all tied up and put away neatly by the time the funeral ends (or perhaps a year later), but you can’t microwave the process. And that’s exactly what it is—a process.

Don’t numb it. This is a big temptation, I know. But it will only hurt you more later. The numbness of drugs, alcohol, shopping, eating, or whatever, always wears off and you are worse off than before.

Here’s some thoughts to get you started healing in a healthy way.

Do face it. It may be difficult to mentally believe your loved one has died, let alone emotionally accept it. The very thought of the death may be like a bucket of cold water thrown in your face first thing in the morning. That’s ok. Take time to think about the death, talk about it, and write about it.

Do dose it. Grief is emotionally exhausting. Give yourself healthy breaks. A movie, a book, time with friends, a walk. Allow yourself to enjoy a funny story, to laugh, to enjoy the delicate beauty of flowers.

Do feel it. Take time to remember and cry. Certain things, events, or people may trigger overwhelming sadness. It’s painful to hurt, but precious too. If the person who died hadn’t been so loved and important to you, you wouldn’t hurt so much. The pain is evidence of how precious they were—and are—to you.

Most of all, learn from the grief. Be changed by it. Become more compassionate. And let it drive you to a more desperate need for God.

Flowers at the grave only live for a season, but the affects of a changed life are eternal.

What suggestions do you have for the grieving?

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