Grief is a painful and necessary part of life. It affects all of us whether we like it or not. Perhaps your first experience with grief may have been the loss of a pet, or with a breakup in a relationship. Today’s blog will be about the grief of a family member and all that goes along with it.

I hope you won’t mind that these thoughts/feelings/observations are based on the recent loss of my father-in-law. So much has occurred throughout the process. My experience of grief is not right, or wrong. It just is, and each person’s experience will be difference.

Looking back over the years, my father-in-law was a quiet, behind the scenes kind of guy. Yet, he was always there to step up to the plate and do whatever needed to be done for the family. He was a kind man with a huge heart. As he aged, he became more and more quiet. I realized that he was no longer the man he used to be. This was an interesting part of the grief process that I had never thought about-losing the person you know someone to be, even while they are alive.

Then there is actually the physical loss. He is no longer on this earth. Many people will miss him-his wife, his children, his grandchildren and those whose lives he touched. Everyone has different beliefs about what may or may not happen to someone after they pass. It was interesting to hear some of the common things people say, such as, “He’s in heaven now with his mother,” or “He’s in a better place,” etc. These words may bring comfort to some and not to others, based on their belief system.

Another interesting emotion, other than feeling my own grief, was hurting for people I love. It was hard for me to see my husband and children in pain. It causes me pain to know my family was hurting.

Beauty in Grief

As crazy as it sounds, there was also some beauty in the grief process. People were more open and vulnerable about their emotions. There were more hugs and I love you was spoken more readily

Authenticity

I saw my big brawny brother-in-law give a eulogy. He made us laugh and cry, as he was laughing and crying throughout the process. This was a side of him we had never seen (the emotional part). His young adult daughter sang beautifully throughout the service. She was worried that her voice would crack-it didn’t. I admire her strength.

It makes you appreciate life a little more

Realistically each day might be our last. We never know. Hopefully you and those you love will stay alive until a ripe old age. Since we don’t know, why not appreciate them a little more? Hold them a little closer and a little dearer to your heart.

Accept people as they are

People will disappoint you and you will disappoint others. Most of it is small stuff in the grand scheme of things. That is part of the human experience. Love those people anyways, as you’d want them to love you. Don’t try to change them. It will only frustrate everyone involved.

Laughter along with the tears

Many funny stories were told. Pictures were looked at a little more closely. Some stories were told for the first time.

Traditions

This is another area that is so interesting. How does your family, or faith grieve? Everyone has different traditions and it’s interesting to see what they are. My father-in-law liked his Scotch, so we all toasted him with a shot. We got Chinese paper lanterns, wrote messages to him on them, lit them and sent them into the air. We lit off fireworks in honor of him (side note, brother-in-law is a pyromaniac, so that was his idea).

Team

The family came together like a team. Despite our differences and beliefs we are all part of the same family, and through grief and leaning on each other, we are stronger because of it.

So if you are grieving the loss of someone or something, remember your wonderful times together. If you look hard enough, you too may find some gifts in your suffering. If you need someone to talk to, please give me a call at 713-304-6554.

Take care,

Debbie