In the blink of an eye, Sharon’s lifelong love was gone. She just wanted to curl up and hide under the blanket. panic. All their hopes, plans and dreams vanished the moment Tom died. If there ever was a time when responsibilities knocked me down and I lost focus, that was the time. No one expects or demands anything from her at this time. But little children and teens also kept screaming for Nana. Their grieving Nana.
Sharon couldn’t imagine surviving the waves of grief that swept through her life, let alone being a grandparent without the love of her life. Perhaps you are on her ship too.
I offer the following six gentle suggestions drawn from the real-life experiences of those* who have gone before you on this journey. These ideas shouldn’t be seen as a rigid to-do list with blame for failing to do anything. Instead, think about how you can grieve the loss of love as you simultaneously transition into the next season of your life as a grandparent.
1. Look outside yourself
Karina: When Dave died, I felt paralyzed. I didn’t want to go anywhere, I didn’t want to see anyone. It just didn’t work. But my grandchildren’s needs drove me. I couldn’t let them down by not coming to see me. Thank God for using them to put one foot in front of the other.
Grief brings both mental and physical pain. excruciating pain. Our minds are just obsessed with survival. It seems impossible to look outside yourself in moments like this. But if we follow Christ, that does not in any way allow us to imitate him (Philippians 2:7). even in our sorrow. even if it hurts. Jesus renounced the sacred privileges he deserved in order to die on the cross for our sins. As imitators of Christ, we give up what we think fit to do what Christ commands us to do.
Children have a way of pulling us away from ourselves. Their needs haunt us and draw us into their world. We can and will resist. We suspect our grandchildren don’t really need us. That they have parents to take care of them. We may think it is okay to ignore their needs in order to meet our own. While we balance dealing with loss and reaching out, grandparents need to recognize their important role in influencing their grandchildren.
2. Don’t try to wear your love’s shoes
Gabriella: I was tempted to continue doing what my husband was doing with his grandchildren. He liked doing architectural projects with them. But then I realized it wasn’t me. it wouldn’t be real. So I did what felt natural to me. I can’t be him
When the love of your life is gone, you take on so many new responsibilities. Where once work was shared, it is now entirely yours. Fix leaky faucets, clean gutters, record birthdays, and more.
Similarly, one is tempted to keep all traditions to one’s spouse’s grandchildren. To pick up where you left off. Perhaps they worked together on the development of the car. Or played a particular card game. Or we went to have breakfast together once a month.
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Before you dive in, ask God to guide your steps. Don’t be afraid to leave blanks, even if you know you can’t continue the tradition. No matter how much you want to be grandpa or grandma to your grandchildren, you probably won’t be able to fill the spousal position. Trust that God will fill the void left by your spouse. Instead, focus on doing your best and helping your grandchildren to accept and cope with their loss.
3. cry together
Linda: Tears were always near the surface. Being with my grandfather sometimes eased the pain, but at other times it brought tears to my eyes. Sometimes we need to cry together.
Remember that your grandchildren have also experienced loss. Often they face death for the first time. Losing the love of your life is different and more serious, but children grieve the death of their grandparents violently. The Bible teaches that strength comes from going through the highs and lows together.
Let’s rejoice with those who rejoice, and cry with those who cry.Romans 12:15 NLTs).
You have a difficult but blessed opportunity to help your grandchildren overcome their grief while working through your own grief.
4. Remember together
Teresa: Most people were afraid to talk about Mark around me for fear of hurting my feelings. My grandchildren are too young to know more. They blurt out whatever they remember. To my surprise, I felt very comfortable talking about him. I love to keep his memories alive in their hearts.
Friends often walk around on tiptoe when someone dies, for fear of saying their name. They don’t know what to say and feel embarrassed. But children do not know the social norms of mourning. They naturally speak whatever comes to mind. Though unpredictable, their chatter often soothes and releases pent-up emotions.
Being able to reflect on your spouse’s memories with your grandchildren fills the void left by the usual silence. You may be surprised at how your grandchildren recognize and remember your spouse. Hearing their perspective on events may even help you see your love in a new light. As we remember and laugh together, we cry together, and the balm of healing is poured into our broken hearts.
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We want our grandchildren to know our heritage too. Hearing and remembering Mimi and Paw Paw helps shape their identities. Sharing your favorite memories reinforces that they are loved. If faith has been essential in your spouse’s life, let your grandchildren know it too. When we intentionally weave threads of faith into our memories, our grandchildren learn to honor God in their lives.
5. Give Hope
AMY: I knew Paul was in a better position with the Lord. He knew that God had promised to meet him again. But after he passed away, I felt so empty and so hopeless. The last thing I want to do is put on a happy face. But I could see that my grandchildren were also shocked. They needed to teach me how to trust and hope in Jesus. Looking back, I can see how much they helped strengthen my own wavering faith.
And dear brothers and sisters, I want you to know what happens to the dead believers so that you do not grieve like those without hope.1 Thessalonians 4:13).
Your grandchildren probably don’t know how to grieve with hope. It’s not the assignment you asked for, but God has placed you specifically as their teacher.
So if you’re in a God-pleasing affliction, keep doing what’s right and commit your life to God who created you. Because God will never betray you (1 Peter 4:19 NLTs).
God promises to give purpose to our suffering. Helping grandchildren understand that there is hope in the afterlife is definitely a goal that grandparents should embrace. Remind them that this life is finite, but that a wondrous eternity with God awaits those who trust in Jesus.
6. spend time
Megan: Every summer, Rick and I went to the Grammys and Puppy Camp for a week. I couldn’t imagine doing it on my own after he passed away. I wanted to sit in the corner and cry. But I pulled up the big girls pants and did it for them. I wanted my puppies to know that even though they’re gone, I’m still there for them.
When I am preaching with elementary school children, I often hear their grief over the loss of their grandparents. The children nostalgically talk about how Nana made cookies with them and how her grandpa always came to watch sports.
Time equals love.
When grandparents spend time with their children, they show that they are important. They feel loved by someone who takes the time to be there. If you were spending time with your grandchildren before you lost the love of your life, keep doing it. In a rapidly changing world around them, they depend on your faithfulness just as much as we need a steadfast God.
Time equals opportunity.
It takes time for children to understand deeply. Children, especially as they grow up, need to spend time with you before they can reveal what lies beneath the surface and open their hearts. Be patient and be consistent. You will be given the opportunity to sow the seeds of God’s truth and unconditional love in their hearts and minds, which will bear fruit in abundance.
You are well equipped for times like these.
Your life is in God’s hands. God has prepared you in advance for this terrible and bittersweet season of sorrow and purpose.hope he can [God] Equip yourself with everything you need to do God’s will. May God create in you through power. Jesus Christ, all good things that are pleasing to him. May all glory be to him forever! Amen(Hebrews 13:21).
You may be just struggling through a quagmire of sadness right now. that’s ok. Processing grief is not a race. But remember, God will join you in the quagmire. As you learn to be grandparents without the love of your life, God will hold your hand and lead you on a new and sure path. Will you allow God to imbue your loss with a good and joyful purpose, to bring glory to Himself?
Ultimately, you will find that God will use your devotion to your grandparents without the love of your life to heal and restore your broken heart.
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Annie Yorty We write and speak to encourage others to recognize God’s personality, presence, provision, and purpose in life’s unexpected twists and turns. Married to her high school sweetheart and living in Pennsylvania, she has a teenage child, two adult children (one of whom is mentally disabled), and a furry beast. Raising Labradoodles.she wrote From Ignorance to Bliss: The Mind of God Revealed Through Down Syndrome. get in touch with her at http://annieyorty.com/, Facebookand Instagram.