By Lynette Kittle, Crosswalk.com
What to Do When Grief Ambushes Us
By Lynette Kittle
"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds" - Psalm 147:3
Grief can catch us off-guard at the most unexpected moments. As much as we try to prepare ourselves beforehand, we really have no way to protect ourselves from the unexpected.
One Saturday afternoon, while watching the big screen TV my dad loved and had passed onto us, it faded to black. After some checking, my husband came to the conclusion its time had come to an end, and the picture would not be coming back. What hit me next caught me totally off guard, like a knife into my chest.
As the only daughter, I was a Daddy’s girl. My dad could do no wrong and made me feel cared for and loved. Being born on his 25th birthday, every year, he would pick out a special card just from him and write the words, “You’re the best birthday gift I ever got.”
For the first time, I realized it wasn’t just a TV to me but represented hanging onto my father’s memory. Because it was the last one he bought before his passing, I hadn’t realized how its presence in our home brought me comfort, making me feel connected to him. So when it died, too, a huge tsunami of grief ambushed me.
Care-giving through the Sadness
Sadly, my dad passed away after months of helping to manage his end-of-life care. After his death, we managed my Mom’s care for the next 5 years through her journey with Alzheimer’s until she joined Dad in Heaven. Following their losses, our almost 20-year-old Siamese cat Panda passed away, triggering a flood release of grief related to losing both my parents and now her within a few years.
With looking back came the realization that my own grief process and working through my parent losses had been delayed by caregiving and the need to keep going forward.
How to Face Grief Triggers
With the loss of my Dad’s TV, I discovered three ways to help deal with and face unexpected grief triggers.
1. Be okay with feeling a range of emotions. Rather than pushing back emotions when sorrow hits, allow a few minutes to experience them. As Psalm 34:18 reminds us, God is near to the brokenhearted. Know He has not left us alone to face our grief but is nearer than we may realize with His compassion, kindness, and comfort.
As we experience the emotions, choose to reminisce with the memories that triggered the grief, being willing to share them with those around us at the time.
With my Dad and his TV, memories of us watching it together at his house helped me to work through the sadness and grief being triggered and experienced through its loss.
2. Make sure to connect with others. If grief hits when we’re with others, we don’t need to hide it or feel embarrassed. Rather, we can be willing to reach out to share with others what’s happening to us in the moment.
Instead of suppressing sorrowful feelings to fester and deepen within us, acknowledging and talking through them a bit, can be helpful in our processing and dealing with grief.
3. Prepare for the unexpected. Grief seems to come in waves. It’s unpredictable what will trigger it within us. From something totally unrelated to the passing of our loved ones to the smallest reminder, it’s impossible to know what might set sorrow into motion. The only way to prepare is to know it might happen anytime and it’s nothing to hide or be ashamed of when it happens.
Receiving God’s Consolation
In times of grief, 2 Corinthians 1:3-5 encourages us to turn to our Heavenly Father. He is the Father of mercies and God of all comfort. He offers us an open invitation to call upon Him in our deepest and darkest hours knowing when we receive comfort from Him, we’ll be able to offer comfort to others during their times of sorrow.
Intersecting Faith and Life:
If you find yourself ambushed by grief this week, rather than trying to stuff your feelings deep down within yourself, take a moment to experience them. As you do, turn to God, asking Him for His comfort and peace to help turn your sorrow into joy (Psalm 30:11).
- 4 Ways to Embrace the Power of Grieving
- Does the Bible Tell Us How to Grieve?
- 7 Healthy Ways Christians Can Deal with Grief
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/kaipong
Lynette Kittle is married with four daughters. She enjoys writing about faith, marriage, parenting, relationships, and life. Her writing has been published by Focus on the Family, Decision, Today’s Christian Woman, kirkcameron.com, Ungrind.org, StartMarriageRight.com, and more. She has a M.A. in Communication from Regent University and serves as associate producer for Soul Check TV.