I’ve not been able to write the last few days as I waited with so many in my home town to see how God would answer prayers. A dear, dear family was in a car wreck, and ultimately, their 13 year old son died. This is, of course, not the answer so many who stood and prayed wanted, but it is the answer we got.
I cannot speak for anyone else who has experienced loss, because loss is so deeply personal, and so different for everyone. You learn much through loss, but I would never presume to give anyone who has suffered loss advice, or tell them how they should grieve. Jesus will walk them through that path.
However, I thought maybe this would be a good time to write about things that I have learned and have encouraged me since my husband died, nearly a year ago.
- First of all, I’m so, so sorry for Julie, John, and the rest of the family. I don’t even have words to explain how much I wish this world was not so terribly broken and that this lovely family had not experienced this loss.
- Prayers were not in vain. Since Shah died, I have felt the prayers of others in a way I never have before. So many times I experienced a wave of intense peace, joy and comfort, only to later find out someone was specifically praying. Don’t stop the prayers now. They need them now more than ever. I need them as much as ever.
- DO NOT ASK THE FAMILY TO COMFORT YOU. First of all, my family and Shah’s family have been awesome about this, always pouring comfort to me, and seeking comfort elsewhere. I think this article is very on point for how to speak to and comfort the grieving. If you were to ask what I most wish people would read about how to comfort, this would be on the short list. It’s a very short article, talks about how to comfort the grieving. It’s called Ring Theory; and it’s basic premise is you offer comfort to those closer to the loss and can dump on those more removed. There is a huge difference between telling someone how precious the one who died was, and telling someone how hard this is for you. I’m happy to know how much my husband meant to you. I don’t really need to know how hard him dying is for you. I love hearing stories about Shah and how wonderful he was and what he meant to people. But, I want to walk away and show my tallest finger when someone starts talking about how hard it was for them. Everyone needs to pour love and comfort to the closest family and not dump your pain on them. After living it, I agree with pretty much every thing this article says. This other article, is even shorter, and more specific, without the example of the first, but with practical tips about what to say. Read both if you have time.
- Listen to the grieving, without offering advice, and without claiming you feel the same, or telling about your past loss. Listen, do your best to understand, but don’t try to relate. It’s different. There is comfort in just being aloud to speak at times and allowed to be quiet at times.
- We never forget. There is never a time it is not on my mind. People are so afraid to bring up Shah sometimes, thinking it will upset me. Yes, it might make me cry, but that doesn’t mean you brought up some pain I wasn’t feeling. It just means you are acknowledging my loss, remembering my love, and allowing me to shed a public tear.
- It’s almost been a year for me. My view of the world has been rocked to the core, and the pieces still do not fit back together. I feel like I’m still at the beginning of the sorting things out journey. The length of time it takes to grieve scared me at first, but nearly a year in, it doesn’t feel long. It doesn’t always feel like the first day, but some days it feels worse. It takes much longer than a year to actively grieve a loss, and without a doubt the first days are NOT THE HARDEST. I have sad days and happy days, though generally not, good days and bad days, as far as Shah is concerned. Sad days are not bad days, they are just hard days. I think you get more comfortable with grief. Yes, somehow I need to strength to go on, make a living, and raise Zoya; but I don’t mind that I’m not done grieving Shah. I do often wish I had more space to grieve more, think more, cry more, and pray more.
- Besides, reading the Bible, John specifically the first days, over and over, and then wrestling with the Bible with parts I didn’t understand or didn’t like in later days, by far, the most important book for me has been Through the Eyes of a Lion. It is a book by a pastor, Levi Lusko, who lost his daughter to an asthma attack. As the anniversary approaches and my grieving grows harder, I am reading it again this month. It’s about seeing past the physical to the true spiritual world. It’s about knowing not just that Shah died, but that he lives with God. It’s about knowing that Shah is with the same God that is with me. It’s about knowing that someday all will be made right. It’s about God’s truth. If I only recommended one book to anyone, it would be this book.
Beautiful and powerful words, Camila. This is especially meaningful because you are living this yourself. I met Julie when you and I served on the Pregnancy Care Center Board together and remember her as a fierce advocate for life. Our prayers are being lifted up for her precious family.