Yesterday marked the one-year anniversary of my dad’s passing. Needless to say, it’s been a rough few days. We actually lost three dear people in my family last year, and I’ve learned that grief is weird. Every death brings a different mash up of emotions. With Daddy’s death, the standard five stages didn’t manifest the typical way. I went through sleeping, not sleeping, manic crafting, and writing maudlin poetry among other things.

During this process, I’ve had to battle my own expectations. I thought I should be happy-happy Daddy was with Jesus, happy he no longer suffered, happy that he could finally rest without pain. But I wasn’t happy. I was stone-cold, throw myself to ground bereft.

Did that mean I had no faith?

Early on, the Holy Spirit reminded me that mourning is biblical. As is says in Ecclesiastes 3:4, “A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;” I needed time to mourn; it’s part of the natural process. I could feel overwhelmed by the gaping void left by my father and still feel joy that he is in heaven.

God also taught me that the “time to mourn” wasn’t a set period. I think of it more like sometimes I weep and sometimes I laugh. Both emotions, and more, ebb and flow through my life. For example, Tech and his family visited this past week. I delighted as my grandbaby studiously imitated the odd sounds I made. A pang of grief hit me when I realized Daddy’s Donald Duck voice would have fascinated Little Prince, but he will never hear it. Then, I grinned remembering the spot-on sputtering imitation and the way Daddy’s cheeks sucked in when he made those sounds.

How do you help someone in mourning?

Your first inclination might be to fix it for them because you hate to see them suffering. But there are no words that will suddenly make the situation all better. Some phrases like, “He’s in a better place, or you wouldn’t want him back,” made me feel worse. While these words come from a place of love, they made me feel selfish for missing him.

Romans 12:15 says, “Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep.” Instead of speaking, listen. When we are sad, let us be sad. Listen as we talk about our feelings. If we’re happy, let us be happy. Listen as we recount that funny story. Let those suffering loss set the tone and roll with it.

My friend Monarch recently told me I should share my poetry. This one encapsulates all I said above.