How to live with Joy after Loss
After we lose a close loved one, many of us don’t know how we should be living with joy after loss. We may wonder if there will ever be good days again.
To tell you a bit about myself, my husband and I have 7 children to date. Three kids here on Earth and four in Heaven. I have delivered my stillborn son, carried my daughter who was deemed “incompatible with life”, and endured two early miscarriages. I learned that life is precious- even my own- did not want to waste my life wallowing in the what ifs and negativity. You could say I was selfish in that I wanted to feel joy again.
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Is is possible to have joy after loss?
I believe it is possible to live with joy in any season of life. That’s a bold statement, but I’ve been able to live with joy- even in the hard times of loss and uncertainty. I’d love to show you how you can too.
Joy, on the other hand, is deep and abiding. It is the unyielding belief that, no matter the circumstances, God is all powerful, and well able to bring you through those difficult times as certainly as dawn will follow darkness. It is surrendering your will to the will of the only One who is able to carry you when your legs fall out from under you.
Joy is peace in your soul when your heart is breaking; a gentle smile forming on your lips as tears are rolling down your cheeks; the sweet victory of passing a wrenching test and realizing it has become a testimony.Aunt Darla, Joy In Suffering
How does a person live with joy after loss?
I am here to show and tell you how I live with joy after loss. You can apply these to just about any season of life. Even if you haven’t dealt with the loss of a loved one, these are ways that have helped me find happiness and joy.
Soak up the moments.
This means I have to be intentional, I turn the TV off, put the device down, and pay attention to those around me.
One of the most obvious, but often forgotten ways I do this is to sit down at the table and eat a meal with my husband and children, reading to my kids, or sitting in a rocking bench on my front porch with my husband or even by myself, and drinking hot tea or coffee.
I don’t know about you, but if I don’t find time to be creative I get antsy and moody. It’s like I have all this creativity bottled up inside of me and I have to let it out. Boy, does it feel good to spend some time being creative. I can only assume I am not the only human being that this happens to. Sewing, baking, and photography are a few of my favorite creative outlets.
Maybe you don’t have a lot of time or room for an extra creative hobby. The season of life I’m in right now does not allow for my personal crafts to be strung out on the kitchen table. Sometimes, I need something I can take with me on the go, or while I’m watching a show with my husband on the couch.
Spend Time with The Lord
It seems I’m in a constant struggle of balancing the mundane of life with spending time building a relationship with God. Life as a mom and a wife are non-stop. There’s always someone needing something or needing you to lend a hand. I remind myself that this is the life I always wanted, but it can leave me feeling empty- depleted and longing to be “filled up” again. I believe spending time with The Lord is crucial at any season, but especially for someone who is grieving to help process their heart and thoughts.
So how do you spend time with The Lord?
It’s probably the most basic and simplest form. You can do it anytime or anywhere. You can literally talk to God about anything. Trust me. I go into detail about some of this in my book, Joy In Suffering. Don’t worry about feeling awkward. God doesn’t expect perfection, He just wants you to be present with Him.
This could be a whole other blog post in itself, but I’ll try to keep this short and simple. The form of worship I’m talking about here is music. Find songs that speak to you and will get you to that deep worship.
For me, sometimes it’s the latest Bethel or Hillsong tracks I’m listening too while driving down the highway, a TobyMac jam my family and me are dancing to in our living room, an Ellie Holcomb song while putting my makeup on, and other times it’s my old Alan Jackson Gospel Hymns CD while washing dishes.
Then there is diving into His word, the Bible. There are a plethora of Bible studies that have been created on all kinds of topics that will help you dive into the Word. There is one particular I have to recommend because it has been a good help to me. It’s a high school student workbook by Sonya Shafer of Simply Charlotte Mason called Life In The Word. It goes back to the basics of Bible reading and teaches you step by step how to actually study the bible.
Create an Inviting and Comfortable Space
I was recently at a wedding and I got to talking with my cousin who lives in Colorado. She’s from Texas, but has lived in Colorado for several years. I asked her how she likes living there. She said, “I don’t know if this makes sense, but the mountains are breathtaking and just so beautiful with all the trees. It makes me feel good.” I smiled and replied, “I know exactly what you are talking about. That’s why I live in East Texas… not that it’s a comparison to the mountains, but it’s so lush with big bushy trees and rolling pastures. It makes me happy.”
So maybe you or your husband’s job has you miss-placed in an area that does not make you happy. I’ve been there. My husband and I have moved a lot in our adult lives to all kinds of places: city apartments, West Texas town-home, my parent’s house, a mobile home, and super old rental houses.
It has always been important to me that no matter where we live, our little space in the world felt like home. I made a point to decorate where ever we lived. Nothing over the top and fancy, but something that made our temporary homes bearable for the seasons we were there.
As I look back over the years, I am so glad I felt the need to decorate. Even the hardest times of my life, I can still find joy in the spaces we lived in.
I’ve dedicated a whole blog post about this specific topic. It’s the first of many. It’s called,Home Design Styles For A Joy Filled Home.
Lots of GRACE
I once heard the Duggar Family speak in person. The #1 thing I took away from their talk was of Michelle Duggar speaking about expectations. She said, “Expectations ruin relationships.”
It can be easy to set relative expectations in our own minds of what our spouses, kids, and even ourselves should be doing every day. Similarly, I am guilty of this and can wind up stressed and full of anxiety if I didn’t get much checked off my to-do list for that day.
When grieving, mundane to-do lists may seem so unimportant to the grand plan of things, but then your logical mind comes in to play and you know things still need to get done. There are days when grief takes over though and absolutely nothing gets done… then the mood changes to one of mad or frustration. I quote C.S. Lewis in my book that is so fitting for times like this:
And grief still feels like fear. Perhaps, more strictly, like suspense. Or like waiting, just hanging about waiting for something to happen. It gives life a permanently provisional feeling. It doesn’t seem worth starting anything. I can’t settle down. I yawn, I fidget, I smoke too much. Up till this I always had too little time. Now there is nothing but time. Almost pure time, empty successiveness.C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
I remind myself not to set my expectations so high because when you don’t, you are able to give you and everyone else some grace. In return, everyone will usually be calmer because of the peace that is present.
These are five ways I live with joy after loss. I hope these ideas can help someone else find that same happiness because life is much better with joy in it.
Lastly, what are some ways you have found to live with joy after loss? Tell me about it in the comments. I’d love to hear from you!