“Don’t hoard your lessons!” Those words hammered into the back of my mind one day, about three months after my second wife died. By then, I’d been asked to share my grief journey. Contrary, or maybe not, to what one may think, it came pretty easy to talk about and was beneficial to me. I didn’t envision the long line of people wanting to talk to me afterward.
Sensing the message may have been from God, I was taking it one step at a time. I recalled that after my first wife’s passing, those who had “been there, done that” with loss seemed to resonate the most with my hurting spirit inside. Comments from well-meaning friends who had never experienced an extreme loss appeared to be a bit shallow. However, other widows and widowers made statements that rang true. So, I took up the mantle of being constantly on call (I’m an all-or-nothing type of man) to share important things about grief with others when the opportunity arose.
One significant example happened about three years after my first wife died. We lived on a small ranch, and I had hay for sale. A new neighbor bought some hay from me. As we loaded the bales on his truck, we discussed why he had moved to the area. One of the reasons that emerged was the accidental death of his brother. Eventually, I picked up that he felt a lot of guilt over the accident. This was an opportunity to “help one.” I told him about my guilt over my wife’s passing and how I dealt with it. He was greatly relieved by my sharing. I could see it sinking in.
With my intent to be “on call” to talk about my experiences with grief, it became apparent that I needed to write down things as they happened or in recollection so I would not quickly forget them. Thus, I began to send email “updates” to my eight adult children so they could “learn” with me. I kept a notepad nearby and a journal to record lessons as they became clear to me. I had a file on my computer with recorded verbal and written notes.
And, of course, in my case, it resulted in publishing articles and even a book.
I found a special message in the Bible for grieving people to share their experiences. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, Who comforts us in all our afflictions, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (II Corinthians 1:3,4)
It has been said that our “messes” can often become a “mission.” Yours does not have to be public, but over time, you will come across others who can benefit from your story of grief. Each one, help one. And without a doubt, sharing your experiences of loss also becomes a source of healing for you.
You are welcome to read more of my “notes on grieving” on my blog at; www.griefreliefministries.com/blog
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