“We knew this day was coming, but nothing really prepared us for this moment.” I have heard those words many times as a pastor when I would walk with families who have lost a loved one. No one really feels prepared when that day comes.
Last month I thought I came to terms with the reality that my dad was going to pass away while visiting him in the hospital. In fact, I felt so prepared for this eventual passing that I went back to speak at an event the same evening I visited him.
However, a few days later, when I was told they were going to take him off life support, I learned firsthand what I have been told over and over again. Nothing really prepares you for that moment. As I drove back to the hospital and spent the last few hours with my dad before he died, I entered the grieving part of death.
Obviously, death isn’t a new concept to us, but dealing with it on a personal level might be new for some of us. Here are three things that could help men as they grieve the loss of a loved one.
Process Your Emotions
I always found it strange when a man chokes up at a funeral and then immediately apologizes for showing emotion. Processing your emotions is one of the healthiest things you can do when you lose someone you love. You can cry, you can be upset, or you can even be angry. You will experience a wave of emotions that you should not ignore. There’s a belief if we ignore these feelings, then the pain will go away faster, but that is not true. You need to face your grief and actively deal with it rather than suppress it. In these moments, don’t try to be strong. Just try to be real.
Turn to Others
This one is hard if we don’t want people to see we are hurting. It might also cause us to hide our emotions and feelings, which does not help with the grieving process. When I suggest turn to others, I don’t mean just go back to work or school and tell yourself you are with others. Turn to others by asking for prayer, processing your emotions with your wife or a friend, or go out for lunch with someone you trust. Dealing with grief alone can be a heavy burden to carry and can often lead us to dark places causing depression, or making poor, sinful choices. Don’t go through grief alone. You might have to put yourself out there, but it will be worth it.
Go to the Funeral
People seem to skip out on funeral services more and more these days. I understand the timing might be an inconvenience, or you don’t want people to see you cry, or you might not have others to go with. But funerals help all of us grasp the reality of our loved one passing away. Funerals are designed to help us come to terms with the reality of death. Whether it’s at the visitation, the service, or at the burial, funerals gives us a chance to say our final goodbyes. If you’re able, it’s very important to go to the funeral of the loved ones to help you grieve.
Although death isn’t something we want to deal with, the better we learn how to deal with the loss of a loved one, the better and healthier we can slowly move forward from it.