One of the most valuable things I learned through going through infertility and our miscarriages was what real loss felt like. This has been so valuable for me because it taught me how I desperately need Jesus. Now only that, it showed me what others are going through and how to better love them through it.
I wanted to share some practical tips on how to cope with and heal from loss, from my own experiences. I am being intentionally vague here because grieving and healing from grief is much like a winding river that takes many unknown twists and turns – – each different and unique for every individual. However there are some underlying themes that I have found often to be similar and I hope these can be helpful.
Practical Tips on Coping with and Healing from Loss:
Know it takes time. Months, years, decades… who knows? Different people experience things differently. Try not to have too much expectations on when you’ll be “over it.” Be patient with yourself.
Know that people are just trying to help. They may say stupid things or never ask about it or talk about it too much. They mean well. I’ve been on both sides of the fence. You’ll protect your own heart if you don’t take things too personally and also know people are just trying their best!
Try to find people who can empathize with you. It’s so healthy if someone else has been through a loss and can identify with what you’re going through. You’ll never find someone with the exact same situation and its not necessarily wise to try– but you may be surprised how many people have gone through something similar.
With that being said, don’t cut people out who have no clue. Even if they can’t identify with your particular suffering or have NEVER had something hard yet in their life, they can still be there for you! They can love and care for you, encourage you and challenge you. Let them. Give them permission. They may be a little bit tentative.
Let your heart feel what it feels. But don’t stop there- cry it out to God. Feel angry? Doubtful? Faithless? Don’t run from Him- tell him!! And then listen. Let him speak balm to your heart.
Read the Psalms. I know I said I wouldn’t be too prescriptive but just try it. Psalm 6 is a good start. Do you cry yourself to bed each night? So did the psalmist. You’re not alone. God is not afraid of your big emotion. Let the psalmist speak for you when your words cannot.
Try to find a healthy balance in your life. A balance between being by yourself and being with others; resting and working; pampering yourself and being there for others. Often in suffering, we get unbalanced in one of these ways or the other.
Know yourself. Know what you need. If you’ve been out of touch, suffering can be an incredible time of self reflection and self discovery because it’s incredibly hard to hide and pretend when we’re grieving. This is a life changing process. Dealing with both at the same time can be really, extremely challenging and can actually exacerbate your grief (trust me, I’ve been there) but don’t fight either – bring them to the surface.
Stay with me here friend – I have something I think easily gets passed up. When you’re suffering, your whole world feels like it is imploding. There is often a time when you can barely go about your day, when just getting out of the bed in the morning feelings like a monumental task. But as the loss gets a little farther along, life continues. And often our brains are still solely focused on our loss and our emotions and our heart. Ourselves feel so big. It can be so freeing and life-giving to serve others. Suffering makes you turn inward towards yourself and we often have to force ourselves to curve outward and serve others, be there for them. It can be hard. We can feel like we’re “not ready,” or “not up for it” or whatever. And you know what? You might not be. That’s okay. You don’t need to be perfect to serve. Serve imperfectly. For them. For you. Not necessarily right away in your suffering. But later on. Absolutely.
Cling tight to Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith. Trust Him that He CAN and He WILL heal you. He is big enough for your sorrow, He is big enough for your pain. He is good and He knows you fully and loves you deeply.