A note from Kelly King: I often talk about having the right “tools” in your leadership toolbox, but I love the way Kaye Hurta shares some basic tools we need when going through grief or ministering to others who have experienced loss. Just having the tools doesn’t mean you know how to use them, so I pray you’ll read Kaye’s words and not only possess the tools needed to help someone in the midst of grief, but you’ll know how to implement them in your ministry to women.
Last weekend I saw a dear friend at a Living Proof Live event. We hadn’t seen each other in seven years, so we met to dinner to catch up. Two women trying to share the highs and lows of the past seven years in the span of one meal was quite a feat. I shared some joys and struggles, but to be honest, what I wanted to hear most was the condition of her heart. One year ago, her 30 year old son died. I knew him. He had a brilliant mind and a compassionate, loving heart. He was her “little buddy.”
After dinner we visited the cemetery. It was a sacred moment. As I listened to her speak of her journey through this terrible pain, I thought about how beautifully she and her husband are leaning into their loss and allowing others to help them through. They are grieving well. Grieving is to the emotional system following a loss what healing is to the physical system after surgery.
Grieving is hard work.
Grief is like a mountain; there you are at the base of it, and it appears threatening and ominous. You would love to go around it and avoid it all together, but that’s not possible. You come to realize that in order to cross this particular mountain, you are going to have to become a mountain climber. If you are going to take up mountain climbing, there are some very specific tools you need to survive. There are also tools you need to survive the climb up the mountain that is life after loss.
One of the most important tools you will use climbing this mountain of grief is…
1. The Word of God and the Presence of God Himself
Psalm 121:1-2 says, “I lift my eyes toward the mountains. Where will my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” The psalmist looked at the mountains and said, “Where in the world will I find help to overcome this?” The answer is clear: from the Lord alone.
Another tool you need is…
2. One Another
Grieving is hard work. Grieving is a necessary work. Here’s the rub: It cannot be done in isolation. It must involve the support of other people—grief companions, if you will. It must include community. And as important as community is, there is a warning label attached: community involves people. Not all our friends or even family are wired to walk this journey with us in a life-affirming, helpful, hopeful way. Some people will help us carry the load; others will add to it. The people or companions you choose to walk this path with you should be safe, trusted, caring friends who will help you carry your burden, not try to solve, fix, or off-load it.
Another important tool is…
3. Self Care
Healthy grief includes being intentional about caring for yourself—mind, body, and soul. Some examples of good self care might include: exercise daily (start small if necessary), eat healthy food, drink plenty of water, read light-hearted books, watch fun movies, read or listen to the Bible, pray, journal, or engage in any other healthy activity.
And finally, an important tool for life after loss is…
Having a clear understanding of the helpful thoughts and feelings around healthy grief is an invaluable tool. Like anything new, the more we understand what is happening to us, the easier it is to rest in the process and not be afraid. It is also important to be caring, kind, and understanding with yourself. Give yourself space and grace.
As my friend shared her journey, she spoke of experiences with each one of these tools. I hate that this is her story, but I am confident that she will climb this mountain and in turn will help others to do the same.
Kaye Hurta has a Masters Degree in counseling from Liberty University and is a crisis counselor for Women’s Events through LifeWay Christian Resources. Whether speaking, singing, or listening, Kaye’s passion is to help others find intimacy with Christ and soul transformation through the living pages of His Word. Kaye met and married her husband Chris in Austin, Texas in 1987. They have two daughters through the miracle of adoption, Madison and Cami. Kaye is also a contributing author for the LifeWay resource, Women Reaching Women in Crisis.