How can you be happy after someone you love very much dies and the loneliness you feel is overwhelming?
The biggest question I have about happiness is how do you find it after losing a loved one? I always place God first…this has been my anchor and I try to find happiness in nature or family or work or education and sometimes in writing. Your words really lifted me up and they reminded me that the stumbles in our life are only temporary. That’s a good thing and a positive light. ~ Sheena
When I think about losing my husband, who is my life and everything, I quiver. When I think of having to one day face the loss of one of my parents or siblings, I shudder.
When I think of losing one of my close friends to death, I am weakened. When I think of losing my cat due to old age, I weep. I don´t want any of that, I don´t want to go through such grief … but I know that one day it will happen. There´s a time for everything.
When I hear or read someone´s account of their grief after losing their husband, wife, child, friend or pet, I cry like I own their pain. I empathize, I imagine how difficult it is, but I know that unless I experience it, I can´t fully understand their pain.
I lost my grandpa in 2012, and then my husband´s Opa and Oma passed successively in 2013, with just four months interval. Although I had a good relationship with the elders, it wasn´t deep. I haven´t seen my grandpa since I was ten, and I only met hubby´s Oma and Opa three years before their passing. I grieved for about 6 months, and quickly moved on.
But I know that if I lose any of my immediate loved ones, it would be an entirely different story.
How do we find happiness again after losing a loved one? Why do we even have to lose a loved one?
How do we find peace in the middle of such unfathomable pain?
It is well.
In 1873 a successful businessman lost all his material possession in the great Chicago fire. This did not trouble him too much for he had set his affection on “things above”.
However, just a few weeks later, when his wife and children were on board the Ville du Havre to visit France, their ship was rammed by an English vessel and sank within two hours, claiming the lives of 226 people. Although his wife survived, all four of their children perished in the icy waters.
While en route to Europe to join his wife, the man was given the tragic news and later shown the spot in the mid-Atlantic where the shipwreck occurred.
Although heartsick with grief, Mr. Spafford suddenly felt an inrush of supernatural peace and comfort as he looked to the Lord for strength.
With tears streaming down his face, he picked up a pen to record his feelings, and from his well-blest heart flowed these thrilling words, “When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll; whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say, “It is well, it is well with my soul.”
His words were turned into a Christian song and it´s one of my favorite songs when I need encouragement. You can listen it here, It Is Well With My Soul.
Look to the Lord for Strength.
What you do, Sheena, looking up to the Lord for strength and having Him as your anchor, are right. Leaning on to God for strength is especially needed for the freshly bereaved who, even getting up from bed, much more going out of the house, find almost impossible to do.
Your loss may cause you to lose hope and inspiration to live, but by keeping your grip on God, slowly your desire to live will comeback. Through time you will start to notice again that the sky is blue, the birds are chirping, or that the flowers smell good.
He will also send people—friends and family members—to carry you when you´re unable to function and when you need shoulders to lean on.
13 “Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope.”
14 “For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.”
16 “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 13-18
These Bible texts are a promise to us that on God´s second coming; we will be reunited with our lost loved ones once again. According to verses 16 and 17, upon the coming of the Lord and with the trumpet call of God, the dead in Christ will rise again, and those who are still alive will join them in the clouds to meet the Lord forever.
What a joyful reunion that would be!
It may sound like a very long time, but the hope of seeing our loved ones yet again will help us carry on.
Take one day at a time.
Working through grief is a one-day-at-a-time journey. Take baby steps, time is on your side. A great book will also help you process your pain, and will remind you that you are not alone.
This traumatic experience will take away your ability to concentrate, so choose a book that´s easy to read. Below are the most recommended:
Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations For Working Through Grief – easy to read, short page a day meditations for the bereaved.
I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye: Surviving, Coping and Healing After the Sudden Death of a Loved One – this book will touch, comfort, uplift and console you through your grief.
On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss – a commended guide on the grief and grieving process.
Ask for a Visit
When someone you love dies, the loneliness you feel can be overwhelming. You may feel abandoned, alone, adrift in unchartered waters, or it may seem to you like nobody understands how you feel.
But where death or illness is concerned, a visit from a friend can do much to lift your spirit. Don´t be afraid to ask for a visit — a good friend will leap at the chance to be with you when you need company.
Find happiness again.
When Facebook COO, Sheryl Sandberg, lost her husband to a gym accident in May, she had people telling her, “You and your children will find happiness again,” of which her heart replied, “Yes, I believe that, but I know I will never feel pure joy again.”
On the other hand, she found comfort from those who spoke the truth, “You will find a new normal, but it will never be as good.”
To the question, how do you find happiness again? And is it possible? I don´t want to pretend like I know the answer. Because I don´t.
I believe that if I´ll lose my husband or any of my immediate family members it will take me a really long time to be happy again. But I also believe that I will continue to find purpose for my life. Finding happiness won´t be my priority, but finding purpose for my pain and the remaining time that I have been given, it will push me through. And as I journey living my purpose, despite my loss, hopefully I´ll be able to smile again and say, “I am happy.”