*I can’t believe you’re gone

We’ve talked a lot about Depression over the last few months; let’s talk about grief. Let me tell you a story.

I’ve stayed very close to my college roommate over the years. She got married the year before we graduated, so she and her husband, whom I am also still close to, lived out on the other side of town for our senior year. They bought a house just off campus shortly after we graduated and that house became the gathering place for an amazing group of people, people I still love today. We used to watch the Bears’ games together, and each of us would take turns supplying the half-time meal. That way, my old roommate didn’t have to do all the cooking, as the “Mama” of the group. We were indeed a family, with all the joking around and little squabbles that go with having ten plus siblings. Those were some of the best years of my life, even though it only lasted a couple years.

I’d read somewhere that there is one person in any long-time group of people, that if that person were to leave, the group would fall apart. I’ve never been one to stand out in a crowd. I’ve never been the one with all the friends, or one to hold much sway over people, so imagine my shock when I moved out of state, and the group crumbled apart, almost immediately. Most of them went separate ways, but still stayed in touch on rare occasions. I couldn’t believe it. According to that article, I was the person who held our group together. Anyway, eventually Facebook came along, and we had an easier time of staying in touch, our little Back Room family, even those who it seemed any call from them may have been the last…just like any family.

Yesterday, my Back Room brother was killed in a car accident. I never thought he and I were very close, but my reaction to his death has shown me otherwise. I’m definitely grieving. I haven’t had to do this for several years, since my in-laws passed. If you’ve grieved, or are grieving, you probably know the signs: sudden tears for “no reason”, difficulty sleeping, not really hungry. Add on to the way that loved one died, or the location, and suddenly being behind a semi truck bothers you (well, me), or driving to Fort Wayne makes you seek a different way so you can skip the portion where it happened, or maybe you won’t even go into the room they passed in, or their bedroom. Most of us have been there. I don’t know if it’s a blessing or a curse if you haven’t. It’s not that having lost someone before makes it any easier the next time, but not knowing what to expect if it happens, well, that can lead to a few devastating problems like not realizing how important expressing your love now is, not knowing how short life is, taking your loved ones for granted, and, I think this is the worst, Extreme Grieving.

Grieving is hard work. It’s rough on the heart and the gut, but it is meant to hurt hard for a short time, so you can move on with your life. You just can’t put your soul through more than two years of grieving for any person, including the love of your life. Extreme Grieving can cause a person to over-grieve, to grieve for several years or more, sometimes for the rest of their life. They just can’t imagine a life without that person, because they don’t realize that life goes on, and good things can still happen to you, even with your beloved gone.

That’s what the grieving process is all about, missing your loved one, knowing they aren’t in the world any longer. You won’t see them again on this side of death. There is still hope for seeing them again. We’ll talk about that in a minute. Grieving gives you the time you need to heal a broken heart. It’s like breaking up with someone while you both still love each other, even if you didn’t realize how much you loved them.

It’s also about coming to terms with the reality that there is still good in the world, and your life isn’t over because theirs is. There is so much more goodness in your life. You will find love again, and if you’re lucky, it will be similar to the deep love you had with your partner, or the laughing out loud love you had with your friend, or the honest and true love you had with your family member.

Remember, though, you can never replace the one you love. Don’t even try, or you’ll be sorely disappointed before too long. Most people are good, and it is hard to start over, but just as the love of your lost one came along, so will this new love. Probably when you least expect it.

Meanwhile, here are a few simple things to do:

  • You may think you don’t want to feel better, but you do. Think of Future You. Don’t make them regret the actions you take now.
  • Try to always have another loved one on call, whether they stay with you for a few days in the beginning, or always have a phone with them. Whether it’s one person you trust, or a group of people, just make sure that someone is always available for you to talk to, day or night. You never know when the need will sneak up on you.
  • Get plenty of rest, but don’t wallow in your bed. Be sure to get up every day, and try to get outside. You’ll feel better. See the first point.
  • Eat healthy foods. This is a hard one, because you probably won’t feel like eating at all. Just the idea may make you nauseous. Try to eat a little something every day, anyway. The sooner you can start eating, the sooner you’ll be able to eat more…the sooner you’ll feel better. See the first point.
  • Try to keep yourself busy. It will keep your mind off of what is going on. You won’t forget all together. It will always be in the back of your mind, but keeping busy will help veil the facts for a little while.
  • Stay in touch with your friends, and if you know them, your loved one’s friends as well. Your loved one’s friends will either slowly drop off as circumstances move on, or they will become your new friends. It’s important that you stay in the world, as hard as that is. Your loved one would not want you to shrivel up in the house alone. See first point
  • Whatever you do, do NOT clear out that loved ones belongings until at least six months goes by, maybe longer. Don’t get rid of everything. You’ll want something to connect back to them. They were a big enough part of your life that you are grieving them. That means they meant enough that you’ll want something of theirs to remember them by. Not that you’ll forget.
  • Keep at least one good photo of them, preferably of the two of you together. Eventually your mind may drop the memory of what they look like in order to be more efficient with your live memories. This can be troubling if it happens. A photo, or several, can keep this from happening.
  • Realize you will always love this person. If you meet someone new and they can’t handle that this person will always be in your life, ask why. If it’s because you haven’t let go, and you’re still sleeping with the ashes in your bedroom, you need to see a therapist, because you there is a problem here. Either you are in Extreme Grieving, or you haven’t let enough time go by before you let someone else into your bedroom. This, of course, only applies to a lost spouse. If you’re keeping the ashes of a friend or a sister in your bedroom, that is another problem.

This will pass. It may seem like forever, or it may pass quickly for you, but you will find your new normal. It won’t be like your old normal, and that can be hard to accept. That’s another reason for grieving. It’s Ok to get a therapist to talk to at any point in your grieving process. We all grieve differently. Anger at your loved one is acceptable. Anger at God is also all right.

Remember I said that you can have hope of seeing them again after this life is over? It’s hope through our Lord and Savior, Yeshua HaMashiach–Jesus Christ.

If you believe that Yeshua is your Lord and Savior and that He died for you on the cross, to take away your sins, and if you obey His Word and follow His commandments, Don’t murder, Don’t steal, Honor the Sabbath and keep it Holy, etc. The Ten Commandments sum up all of the 613 commandments in the Bible. Some of those 613 don’t effect us, because they were for before Christ became our Passover lamb. Those are commands such as the sacrifice commands. We are to love the Lord, our God with all of our heart, soul and resources. Five of the ten show us how to do that. We are to Love our neighbor as ourselves. The other five show us how to do that. It’s very simple. If you love someone, you want to see them happy and blessed. Loving God will lead to Heaven. This is where your chance to see your loved one again lies.

If you are having any troubles with your grieving,or that of a loved one’s, feel free to contact me. As always, I am here for you.