Good Grief! (pun intended) I wish someone had warned me. Maybe no one knew, or perhaps I wouldn’t have heard. In case you ever need to know, here are two words to remember after you’ve lost a loved one—“three months.”
The three-month anniversary of a loss feels like your grief has started anew. We buried my mother Mother’s Day weekend weeks before my high school graduation. Three months later, on my first weekend at college, grief blindsided me.
Years later, Daddy passed away in August. That Thanksgiving I found myself summoning all I had to hold it together. What was happening?
Later, in a grief class by Norm Wright, I learned that grief has three month cycles during the first year after a loss. Those tidal waves of grief are normal and their intensity usually passes after several days. I have seen the cycle played out many times in others’ lives.
For me it was like being knocked down by a large unexpected wave. Those who’ve spent time at the beach know the difference between the cold slap of a small wave, the brief knock down of a medium wave and the merciless dunking of a big surge that flips you and holds your head under the water while you pray your breath will last until it releases you. The three-month mark of grief is like the last wave.
When this happens, the griever questions whether the grief will ever subside. Be assured, you haven’t digressed. This is a normal phase of mourning.
Grief can look as different as the faces that hold it. Whether the one suffering processes their grief through busyness or through quietness, grief is never a straight line. It has dips and dives. It twists and turns. Even years later an event can open an old wound, as the news of Osama bin Laden’s death did for some who lost loved ones connected to the September 11 tragedy.
If you or someone you know is grieving, grant grace. Don’t tell them or yourself to snap out of it. Share good memories and tears. Feel the anger, then let it go. Grief reminds us that we aren’t home yet. One day Jesus will wipe away every tear. Until then realize there really is something good about grief.
Ecclesiastes 7:2, 4 (NIV)
It is better to go to a house of mourning
than to go to a house of feasting,
for death is the destiny of everyone;
the living should take this to heart….
The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning,
but the heart of fools is in the house of pleasure.
Grow in the wisdom only mourning provides. And don’t be dismayed when your grief resurfaces.