It almost sounds heartless for me to say grieving people can often be selfish people. In fact, we almost EXPECT grieving people to be selfish. Something terrible has happened to them. They should be allowed to walk around in their own little world, thinking only of their own grief and pain. I even said in my post on How to Help Someone Who Grieves, that you need to let them grieve because all too often people on the outside just want the person experiencing the tragedy to get on with it. A few weeks or months (or even days ) after a death, people on the outside forget and their lives go on as normal; whereas, those experiencing the tragedy have to find a new normal based on their new circumstances.
For instance, I had to relearn how to get up in the morning, how to cook for my family (now minus one child), how to care about anything other than my daughter’s death. But, I never expected to have to learn how to not be selfish in my grief.
You see, when Emily died, I never wanted to want again. I had lost my daughter and I had to go on living here on earth without her. I felt deprived of her presence. I felt I had lost enough. I never wanted to feel any kind of deprivation again. So, I started filling the void.
I bought fabric. Every time I saw fabric on sale and it was even semi-cute or something I thought I might use one day, I bought it.
I went to thrift stores. I brought home all sorts of things we didn’t need. I nickel and dimed our family week after week.
I ate too much. Any time I wanted to go out to eat, I begged my husband to take me. I bought coffees, ordered appetizers, brought home more groceries than we could eat, and cooked and baked my way up the scale.
I know many people touched by tragedy who have eventually gone bankrupt. I know people who have gained a tremendous amount of weight. I know people who have hoarded their lives into oblivion because of grief. All because the kind of self-control it takes to avoid this behavior feels too much like letting go of something you love. But at the root of this is selfishness…a selfishness that will tear a house down to the ground…marriage, family, and all.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 has become my prayer for my life and my blog, especially any time I blog about grief.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
But before I could get to this place, I had to learn to think outside myself. I am still seeing nearly 6 years later, selfishness that stems from never wanting to want again.
As you walk through the murky waters of grief, you have to be willing to ask the hard questions. You have to be willing to ask the Lord to reveal your own selfishness to you and help you through the process of rooting it out. And as you root it out, you have to consciously think of others and how you can offer them the same grace, comfort and peace you have been offered.
All too often the selfishness we have to deal with as we grieve ends up directly affecting our marriages. The walls we build to keep from feeling the want are walls that ultimately keep our husbands out as well.
I lost a dream. I dreamed of a beautiful little girl with curly brown locks running after her siblings, sitting down to do school work at our table, walking down the aisle. My husband lost the same little girl, the same dreams. And even when our grief doesn’t look the same, I know he’s hurting too. I don’t get to selfishly act as if I’m the only one grieving. I don’t get to tear my house down or rip my marriage apart. And being aware of this is half the battle.
Today, I’m posting at Yes, They’re All Ours on the topic of Marriage & Losing a Child. It’s tough when a marriage is faced with something of this magnitude, but it isn’t impossible. Cling to each other so that as you heal, you heal together…one wound, one scar, one flesh.
Please visit my Grieving Mother page for our story and more articles on grief and healing.