During my grieving process, I lost faith. I was known for my faith since the day I gave my life to God in 2011. But if I can be honest with my community, that faith was questioned at least twice since I have given my life to God. One happened when I was graduating from college, and the next was when my mom passed.
The day I got the phone call from the Chaplin at the hospital where my mom and brother were, I could no longer pray. Words were not forming. I reached out to everyone I could and told them to flat out, "I cannot pray right now." When attending church, we often discuss community, but when one of our brothers and sisters is hurt, we struggle with being a community outside of prayer and giving gifts in hopes that they will feel better sooner for our comfort.
It is hard to deal with someone who is hurt, let alone someone who is grieving, but sometimes we must be okay with "our people are just hurt and going through a process." Because of my lack of faith, people walked out of my life. People said to me, "I noticed you didn't believe in God no more, and I could not deal with that."
It wasn't that I didn't believe in God, I was questioning, I was lost, I was confused, I was hurt, I was human. And that made people, specifically believers, uncomfortable. You want to know what? I never stopped praying, and I was doing a devotional and bible study on my own and watching sermons almost every day.
If I had truly stopped believing, then all of that would have ended as well. As much as I love God and as much as my relationship with God comes first in my life; my current situation did not fit into the plans of my faith. I'm sorry, believers, but that is my truth. I am not here to say it is right or wrong. All I can say is God would often tell me, "I hear you, my daughter. I am here. Keep talking to me."
Here are my suggestions for anyone dealing with someone who is grieving:
Stop talking and listen.
Stop saying, "you're going to be okay, or everything happens for a reason."
If the person tells you, they do not know what they need, and you want to assist them, pay attention to something they like (a meal, cartoon character, music, etc.) and just leave it at their door or ask if you can stop by.
This may sound like common sense but talk to them after the funeral. For the rest of the world, things go back to normal for the person who is grieving their whole life changes.
If you cannot handle the person's grieving process, then politely let them know. The conversation will not be fun or easy, but it is necessary. We must be honest with ourselves, and we must be frank with them.
Their grief will more than likely make you uncomfortable, and you must be okay with if you decide to stay in that person's life; their world may or may not be a whirlwind.
You do not have to deal with someone who is grieving. You do not have to be there every step of the way, however, try to be considerate of their current situation and have that conversation of how you cannot handle their grief right now. Honestly, you never know how the conversation will go.
Do not tell your grieving loved-one that they have always been so strong, and you do not know how to be supportive. People in this situation do not want to hear that they are strong. They want to know that they can be heard and seen as a regular person. They may be strong, but they might be tired of being strong.
If your loved one struggles with their faith, then do not attempt to shove the faith down their throat. You can pray for them and put them on the prayer list and whatever your heart desires, however, your loved one probably still knows that God loves them and that they need to pray, but they need to know that they can express their human desires and not be ridiculed for having a temporary shift. Remember, most of these are temporary shifts.
Currently, I am getting comfortable with my new normal, but I am candid about my journey. Honestly, some of my fellow believers get uncomfortable. One thing about me is that I am not going to lie about my journey. I lost my faith temporarily. I had to get to know myself again. I had to get to know God again. I had to start back with the basics. Just like any relationship, I had to relearn myself and God in this new season. I had a friend tell me I was a real-life Job from everything that I have been through in life. Do you know what I did? I took the time, and I studied the book of Job. I studied Job's character, and Job's friends and I put myself in the position of Job and aligned Job's friends with my friend. It was all about relearning. Do you know the concept of rebranding that businesses will do? They will take time and rebuild their brand, change the logo, the colors, their slogans to make a new name for them. Well, in this season of grief, that is precisely what I did. I rebranded myself, and I rebranded my relationship with God.
So, while I did lose my faith, I was dependent on those friends and family who continued to pray for me and pour into me. I had to realize that I needed to appreciate who and what I do have. I had to be honest about my current situation instead of faking the funk for a church or a bunch of people who really weren't worried about me. It wasn't their duty. I also had to be strong for my siblings and my nieces and nephews, and I had to be honest with them when it came to be reliable.
I mean, think about it; how you think I felt when people would tell me, they can't mess with me because of my lack of faith. Where that at in the bible? How are you going to tell me I am wrong when God has been telling me to continue to lean on Him?
Anyways, family, I do not know where you are in your spiritual walk, but I do know if you are reading this, you are human. I don't even know if you are grieving or if you have ever grieved. I do not know if you are the supporter of someone grieving or if you are the person grieving. But I do know that you are human, and relationships get tricky and then add grief to it, and you have entered a whole other world.
Wherever you are just realize that sometimes it is not about you. Sometimes you have to have those hard and uncomfortable discussions. Your walk is unique, and that's okay. No matter what, I want you to love yourself the way you love the world.
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