FARGO — Grief and loss is a journey all of us wish to avoid but a journey all of us go on, in significant and smaller ways. Earlier this year, through a discussion with my counselor, God taught me a tool to help with grief and loss. I’ve added my thoughts to his thoughts and I’m so excited to share this with you.
In order for a three-legged stool to stand, all three legs must be present. If only one or two legs are sturdy, the stool is unsafe and will fall over. Like a stool, there are three intentional thoughts necessary to heal from grief and loss. We must: grieve what was lost, celebrate what was good, and trust what is to come.
Grieve what was lost; don’t ignore it, hide it, or minimize it. There will be denial, anger, bargaining and depression (sadness). Be specific with what is being lost: “I am not going to be able to watch the Daytona 500 with my dad this year,” “Christmas won’t be the same without my mom’s caramel rolls,” “Normally on the fishing opener I would be out with my buddy but he lives in California now.” Share your thoughts with someone. Provide comfort through a listening ear to each other. My counselor recommended we put a place setting at the Christmas table for my mom after she passed.
My dad died when I was 1 year old and I never knew or celebrated his birthday. So, last year we had a birthday party for him and invited the Prairie Heights staff for burgers and fries over lunch. I asked everyone to share a fun story or a memory from their dad. We sang happy birthday to him–very emotional but healing.
While I was in Israel back in January, there were several times I had deep feelings of sadness as I realized my father-in-law would be with me on this trip had he not passed away two years ago. Each time sadness hit me I also reminded myself of great memories I had with him such as golfing (the time he hit a goose in the fairway), going to a world fast pitch softball tournament and attending a pastor’s conference (we were roommates in a dorm room and we had a memorable heart-to-heart conversation one night).
Positive memories are gifts from God. Tell those fun stories, think about and celebrate what was good. Grief will hit us. We will be reminded of something that was lost and it can hit us hard. When that happens we also need to identify and think about what was good and trust what is to come. Heartache and pain is not the end of the story. The story isn’t over until God’s story takes over. There are new relationships to enjoy, new memories to build, the future is bright. I will always believe that.
In Isaiah chapter 6, Isaiah experiences an incredible presence of and connection with God but it happened “in the year that King Uzziah died.” During and after a time of heartache, pain, and disruption God did something incredible! No matter how dark, how painful… we must trust what is to come as we look and walk forward with the Lord. God bless you. See you next Sunday!
Hauser is the founding and senior pastor at Prairie Heights Community Church in Fargo-Moorhead and can be reached at www.jonhauser.com