As I started reading books and joining Facebook groups after my daughter Becca’s death, I kept hearing from other grieving parents how having something to do, like a job or some sort of responsibility, was a huge gift. It allowed them to be able to function again.
I’m not talking about “busy work” to avoid the pain of processing what happened, but doing something that caused at least one shattered piece of their life to feel normal again. They might have been in a fog, they might not remember any of it, but at least it kept them from sitting around with nothing but their thoughts taking them deeper and deeper into depression.
The man who was my pastor at the time put me in a place of “rest” and isolation, believing I was having a spiritual melt-down, since I was having such an emotional struggle after Becca died. It went on for weeks and then months.
I don’t even remember how long my husband had off from work, but at some point, he went back. About a week after the funeral, my youngest son went back to school. The rest of the kids also got back to their previous life schedules. Were they all in a fog? No doubt about it. But even going through the motions of life helped them. I didn’t have that.
I would spend hours and hours in my little prayer room under the basement stairs, mostly sleeping and crying. I would read my Bible, pray for a while, cry, and then sleep some more. That became my life because I had nothing to go back to, since the pastor would not allow me to have any kind of ministry or leadership role in the church, totally misunderstanding the grief I was working through.
I have no problem following spiritual counsel from leaders God has place in my life. But something is very wrong when a spiritual leader becomes the voice of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life, and when that leader tries to override a woman’s Godly husband. But during this time of intense grief, I allowed both of those things to happen, and it nearly destroyed me.
My husband, Dave, kept asking me, “When is this time of ‘rest’ supposed to be over?” All I could tell him was that I didn’t know. Although Dave wholeheartedly welcomed a season of rest for me after Becca’s passing—even sending me on a cruise to relax and enjoy myself—when the weeks turned into months and he saw me spiraling even further into despair, he became very concerned. He saw how wrong it was for me to be kept in this prolonged place of “rest”, knowing I needed to return to the things God had called and anointed me to do in ministry, which would allow the Holy Spirit to flow through me to others as part of my healing.
There actually was one area I still functioned in. The international ministry I was a part of had a correspondence school, and I was the administrator of that school. I have no idea how I did it, but somehow, I limped my way through overseeing the students. But there were things that definitely fell through the cracks, and students did not have much of my attention beyond just grading their work. My leader was full of grace and did not pull me from my job, allowing me to work in a state of barely functioning. I honestly don’t believe I would even be alive today if I did not have that job and those students as a thin connection to my previous world beyond my isolated grief.
I am sharing this with you because I don’t want you to do to yourself what was done to me.
God can still minister through you and use your circumstance while you are broken and working through your grief. In fact, I believe that in a rather short amount of time you occasionally need to allow yourself to be a vessel God can flow through.
When we have nothing in ourselves to give, God seems to flow in a very strong way through us. We are completely out of His way and we find 2 Corinthians 12:10 being fulfilled in our lives: when we are weak, He is strong through us. Feeling His strength flow through our weakness and our brokenness stirs life and brings some of that deep healing we need in our souls.
I can 100 percent guarantee you’re not going to feel like participating at first. You might even cry while you’re doing it (whatever “it” is). That’s okay. The important thing is to allow God to use your circumstance to touch others and let Him flow through you as soon as possible.
Don’t wait until you feel strong. God is so gracious, so faithful, so deeply in love with you and full of compassion for you. He knows exactly what will bring a healing touch to your innermost being.
So, when an opportunity comes your way, whether it is public like being on a worship team, or private such as someone asking you to connect with a friend of theirs who just lost a child, I encourage you to make yourself push through and do that one thing. Then push through and do the next thing that comes your way.
Have someone compassionate and caring pray for you, to give you the strength and whatever else you need to follow through.
Remember, when we are weak He is strong. And based on how deep our weakness is as a grieving parent, that is a very powerful strength He has for each of us!
As grieving parents, we are in survival mode for weeks and even months. With life’s demands, we often put what little energy we have into those around us and have absolutely nothing left for ourselves. If you would like a list of simple ideas that you can do to help care for yourself, we would be happy to send it to you.
Note: Your information stays with us, and you will start receiving a Weekly Word of Hope from Grieving Parents Sharing Hope (GPS Hope) which you can opt out from at any time.
Expressions of Hope is written by author, speaker and singer Laura Diehl. She and her husband, Dave, are the founders of Grieving Parents Sharing Hope (GPS Hope). Dave and Laura travel full time in their Hope Mobile (a 38-foot motor home) to be more easily available for speaking and ministry requests, including being invited to hold one-day GPS Hope & Healing conferences.
Laura is a national keynote speaker and has also been a workshop speaker for events such as The Compassionate Friends and Bereaved Parents USA national conferences, along with being a guest on radio shows, podcasts and other media channels such as webinars with Open to Hope.
If you would like more information about Laura as a speaker for your next event or want more information on hosting a GPS Hope & Healing conference, click here.
GPS Hope exists to walk with grieving parents through the suffocating darkness of child-loss, guiding them to a place of hope, light and purpose.
We also support families, friends and coworkers who want to know how to support these parents both short and long-term.
• If you are a bereaved parent, we encourage you to connect with us on Facebook.
• If you are not a bereaved parent but want to support those who are, or want to follow us as we give hope to these precious parents, please connect with us at Friends of GPS Hope on Facebook.
• Subscribe to Laura’s YouTube channel.