I have several friends who are the throes of grief.
Grief can be about a myriad of people and situations. Sometimes we mourn the relational death of someone who chooses to end a relationship or can no longer emotionally or healthily connect with us. Sometimes we grieve a season of community, friendships, or faith. We can mourn our abilities or opportunities.
Of course, mourning people who are entwined throughout our lives can be the most heart-wrenching.
As I was reading Scripture recently, Jacob’s story and reaction to his son Joseph’s presumed death made me pause.
Then Jacob tore his clothes and put on rough cloth to show that he was upset, and he continued to be sad about his son for a long time. All of his sons and daughters tried to comfort him, but he could not be comforted. He said, “I will be sad about my son until the day I die.” So Jacob cried for his son Joseph. (Genesis 37:34-35, NCV)
A long time. I don’t know how long that was, or how long it seems to be for you, but be patient with yourself. Even when you find joy and hope in the relationship you had with someone you loved, you will find sadness as well. There is sadness because of the relationship you had, and there is sadness because of gaps or hurt in the relationship. Sometimes the sadness might be so burdensome that you feel smothered; other times it is lighter but still present. As time passes, check yourself every now and then. If it gets chronically worse, be sure to say “help” to someone. But know an underlying sadness that only overwhelms every now and then but otherwise behaves as it accompanies you can be normal and might last in some form for a lifetime.
People will try to comfort you, and it might not feel comforting at times. You might not have the bandwidth to be patient with them. You might feel burdened by what others say or need or assume. You might not know what you want but also know exactly what you don’t want. If what someone does is helpful, take a breath and be grateful. If what someone does isn’t helpful, step beyond it. It’s okay. People who care and have a bit of life experience understand.
Grief is odd in that it is isolating, because it is your personal journey, yet there are many around you who have traveled a familiar path. Our grief is not duplicated but it is also not foreign. When you can, journey a short distance with others, even if it’s a quiet walk or weeping on someone’s shoulder.
You are not alone.