If I’m being honest there are some days, when I’m simply exhausted by talking about grief. Oh, how I’d like to talk and write about something light and uplifting. Then, with my very next heartbeat, I know this is what I’m supposed to be doing. This is how God is making beauty from ashes, and although not a journey I would have chosen, it’s where I’ve been planted. No parent chooses for their child to die before them but when it does happen, we are left searching for meaning in grief.
As time has moved forward have you wondered where you’re supposed to go from here? We don’t want our loved ones to be forgotten, nor do we want their deaths to be in vain. So, what does it mean to be searching for meaning in grief, and where do we find it?
Meaning is different for each of us. When my heart was shattered into a million pieces I longed for connection. During that time, God continued to hold me close. Even in the middle of the hiccupping and sobbing, it was my faith that sustained me. Deep inside I knew this could not be the end – there had to be more to Melanie’s life and death than this. I found my meaning in grief when I began blogging to share with others who were on the same path.
Soon after I was led to write my book, Beautifully Broken Finding Hope During Loss. Even though I shared things about my life I would rather have kept private, I’ve heard from so very many how this book has been a lifeline for them. In the end, if sharing my story touches one heart and gives even one person hope during loss, then it’s all worth it. I will continue writing and blogging until God directs me to do something else.
I know many of you want to find meaning in your grief. Recently I read David Kessler’s book, Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief. I found it very helpful and would highly recommend it. One of the things he shared is, “Ultimately, meaning comes through finding a way to sustain your love for the person after their death while you are moving forward with your life. That doesn’t mean you’ll stop missing the one you loved, but it does mean you will experience a heightened awareness of how precious life is.”
Following are some of the insights I gleaned from the book that stuck out to me:
• Meaning takes time. You may not find it until months or even years after loss.
• Refuse to allow the death of your loved one to be meaningless or to make your life meaningless.
• Love and grief come as a package deal. If you love, you will one day know sorrow.
• Meaning is a reflection of the love we have for those we have lost. Meaning is the sixth stage of grief, the stage where the healing often resides.
My dear friend, Elaine Mitrano, lost her son Michael 12 years ago. A few years ago, she began “The Backpack Project, which has now become, Hope For Boston’s Homeless. When Elaine started this project, she was working out of her living room, and people would drop off gently used clothes, along with personal items on her doorstep. Each month she would fill backpacks for the homeless and deliver them to one of the hardest-hit areas in Boston. What started with 30 backpacks has now grown to 100 backpacks a month! What an amazing way to find meaning in grief!
Another friend, Cheryl Juaire, founded Team Sharing, a group which offers support to parents who have lost children due to the disease of addiction. There are chapters located throughout the U.S. which provide online and in-person support. She is a fierce advocate with local and state legislators and is committed to fighting the stigma of addiction so this doesn’t happen to one more family.
These are just a couple examples of what some have done. As you are searching for meaning in grief don’t be discouraged. It doesn’t have to be something epic or off-the-charts. Each of us has a path and I believe God will direct each one of us to where we need to be.