by Greg Lincoln
Kelly and I want to share our thoughts about what it feels like to lose a loved one, one who is very dear and precious to you. It is our hope that you can help others who are also grieving: The sudden loss of a beloved one results in deep, overwhelming, and painful grief. The pain hurts so bad that it drains you of all energy and motivation. It leaves you dry and weak and empty and you find yourself not knowing what to do next and all you want to do is stay in bed and cry. This grievous pain and loss requires extreme and thoughtful aftercare in order for the bereaved to feel well enough to get up and do stuff.
Just like a person needs aftercare following heart surgery, those who are bereaved of a loved one need special aftercare – after all, their heart has been ripped out from their body and torn into pieces – they need aftercare in order for their heart to be gently mended back together and put back in the right place so they could get better.
Aftercare can be a friend coming over with a pot of moose stew. It is also a relative visiting and just being with you and filling the space in your home with their comforting presence while you sit together in your living room. Aftercare is also checking on you just to make sure you are doing okay – this could be through a simple loving text message to let them know you are there for them. It is also a kind email message with good tidings.
Aftercare can also be in the form of care packages and cards in the mail from those who live afar. But the most beautiful and most healing aftercare a bereaved person can receive is your love. You can show your love by attending to their needs, no matter how big or small. It can be going with them to the seawall to fish for lush even though you don’t catch anything. Aftercare can be letting them hold your baby at church and sitting by you and praying with you until you cry all the tears that they had been holding in. You can show love by crying and praying with them and never letting them be alone while they are crying.
Aftercare can be letting them whisper to you the battles they are fighting. The battles will be many, but you can help them fight them. Examples of battles that they will be fighting include the finality of loss, the sadness over plans unfulfilled, and the worst – guilt. You can help by reassuring them with scripturally-based wisdom because the word of God stands forever.
All this aftercare may sound like work, but it is beneficial and builds character for the caregiver. As a caregiver, you are fulfilling your poor friend’s needs and by doing so it makes you feel productive, helpful, and the great reward is knowing that you are a friend that is closer than a brother. Every second you spend with them is not wasted one little bit.
Crying, although it brings relief, is only temporary relief. New tears will always fall afresh. Every little remembrance or memory is a trigger. If a trigger is set off, it must not be held back. Remember, those who are bereaved are severely injured. They may never be whole again but you can help them as much as you can so they could reach something as close to wholeness as possible.
The other day a friend brought us fresh flowers. The scent of them brought forth happy emotions and it made us smile.
To all those who are providing sweet, kind, loving aftercare – thank you. Thank you for not letting us and others who are grieving suffer alone. Thank you for the prayers that help us to stand again on our own two feet.