Last month, I experienced the loss of a close family relative. It wasn't unexpected. He had been sick for some time. This was my first time experiencing the death of someone I knew. Of course, my parents would tell me about relatives, whom I never really knew, who passed away back home in Nigeria, but none had affected me as much as this. Being a witness to the manner in which this death had affected my mum also had a great impact on me. I had seen my uncle a few months back when I went back home to vist. I had also recently spoken to him on the phone, so when my mum told me the news I was in shock. I had no words to even comfort my mum. Though I played it cool in front of her, so many thoughts raced through my mind. Over the following two weeks, I pre-occupied myself with work, burying my feelings. However, one evening on the bus home from work, I couldn't escape from my thoughts. Thoughts such as "I should have prayed harder" or "how will his children grow up without knowing what a kind man their father was" as well as our last phone conversation replayed in my mind. One thing my mum told me that stuck with me was "We can't question God, He has a reason for everything."
Death is one of the most frightening truths about life because it is inevitable. And grief is a natural process that helps us to recover from emotional pain. As a Christian, I believe that there is only one person that can walk us through those dark times and bring us out to the other side and that person is God. Grief can be experienced as a result of the loss of a loved one, home, job or any kind of emotional trauma. I'll be honest, I didn't turn to God initially with my burden. I am still growing in my faith and still learning to trust God with everything that happens in my life.
Experts have recorded various stages of grief including denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. However, grief varies for each individual - depending on their culture, religious beliefs etc. As a believer, I take comfort in knowing that Jesus has already experienced what I'm going through, He cried after hearing the news of the death of Lazarus (John 11:35). So He can definitely help me through my grief. He also told us that He will send us the Comforter, the Holy Spirit (John 14:16) who will give us peace in times of suffering.
For those who may be experiencing grief or any kind of emotional pain, let your emotions run their natural course. Without meaning to sound clichéd, time is a great healer. Believe that things will get better. Draw strength from your faith. Speak to someone that you trust about it, your family, friends, pastor, a counsellor etc. Surround yourself with positivity.
Tough times don't last but tough people do.
-Robert H. Schuller