Grief: Messy, Unpredictable, and Empowering

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grief: messy, unpredictable, and empowering

GRIEFnoun. Deep sorrow, especially that caused by someone’s death.

Grief is a powerful emotion. It can pull us down and make us feel like we’re suffocating. However, over time, I discovered that it can also propel us. While, for a time, grief may bring depression and despair, I have found that in the end, it makes us better.

President Thomas S. Monson said,

We know that there are times when we will experience heartbreaking sorrow, when we will grieve, and when we may be tested to our limits. However, such difficulties allow us to change for the better, to rebuild our lives in the way our Heavenly Father teaches us, and to become something different from what we were—better than we were, more understanding than we were, more empathetic than we were, with stronger testimonies than we had before.

I wanted to learn more about the power of grief. How can it shape our testimonies? How can it bring us closer to God? I decided to interview some incredible women in my life and hear their thoughts on the subject.

Related: Good Grief: How to Support a Grieving Friend

What was your testimony?

Most of the people I interviewed said that before losing their loved one, they had a very plain and simple testimony. My cousin called it a “pray, He is there” type of testimony. Before the life-changing experience of losing a loved one, many of them never really had a reason to doubt the gospel.

A family friend of mine always knew The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was Christ’s restored church. “There is no place I would rather be,” she said. Most of those interviewed said they knew the Savior loved them, but never truly had to lean on His atonement until after facing grief.

Where is your testimony now?

difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations

My sister-in-law told me that after she lost her mom, she became very motivated to work on her testimony. It didn’t happen all at once. She knew that if she was going to feel the peace she wanted, she had to work for it. I think that’s an incredible way of looking at it!

My mission president told me that there are two ways of reacting to a trial. You can either turn towards God or turn away from Him. Luckily, the people I spoke with all chose to turn towards our Heavenly Father. He propelled them to become the people they are today.

I loved how my cousin put it. She said that she had no idea how much she was changing and growing in the midst of the trial. It wasn’t until years later that she looked back and realized she was a better person. When we’re facing grief, it can be almost impossible to focus on the positives. I appreciated her counsel to stay patient and know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel.

Does grief go away?

All of the women I spoke with said that anger and sadness still happens. They don’t deal with it daily, but grief never truly goes away. Instead, you become better at handling your emotions and using that grief to help others.

“Satan tries so hard to remind me of all that I have lost,” my friend said. If you’re dealing with grief, remember that feelings of negativity do not come from God. Satan will do his best to bring you down, but you have the Savior on your side. This same friend told me that she uses her grief to motivate her. She will live in a way so that she can be with her loved one forever.

How do you find joy/peace in the midst of grief?

I received so many different answers to this question. Some said prayer was the best way to find peace while grieving. Others said it was connection and talking with someone that relates to their problem. One said journaling and another mentioned meditation. I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all answer to this question.

One constant I noticed in my interviews was the importance of service. When you’re overcome with grief, it is important to allow others to serve you. Accept help and allow yourself to feel weak. When you’re ready, find ways to turn outwards as well. Our inner struggles can be healed as we follow Christ’s example and love our neighbors.

Jesus Wept

two women crying together suffering with grief

John 11:35 says, “Jesus wept.” My cousin told me that this scripture “embodies the whole purpose of our time on earth.” We came here to face trials, feel sorrow, and have the ability to mourn with others. 

She said, “Jesus, wept! He didn’t say, ‘I am going to go and raise him so calm yourself,’ or, ‘This is all part of my plan, you just have to have faith.’ He simply felt their sorrow. The world, especially nowadays, could use more of that.”

It is okay to weep for those that we have lost. It is encouraged to weep with the people that we know are grieving. Jesus Christ set the perfect example and He taught us that grief is normal. Isn’t that beautiful?

Final Thoughts

I send my love to any of those that might be suffering from grief. I know that Heavenly Father’s plan for us will allow us to be with our loved ones for eternity. Jesus Christ knows exactly how you feel and because of Him, we never have to be alone.

I felt so enlightened after interviewing these incredible women. I learned that grief is messy, unpredictable, and empowering. Grief teaches us that life is precious and sacred. Experiencing pain helps us relate to our Savior and allows us to rely on His atoning sacrifice. Grief is powerful.

Related: Easter, Hope, and the Death of Our Daughter

What other thoughts do you have about the power of grief? Write out your thoughts as you share this article with your friends and family!

Brooklyn Gittins is an enthusiastic member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She has written for food and lifestyle blogs but is currently sharpening her skills as a writing intern for Third Hour. She enjoys spending time with her husband, petting dogs, and eating buttered noodles.