Grief & Suffering

The best gift to give someone who is grieving

July 15, 2022 • 4 min
The best gift to give someone who is grieving

I’ve tried to put myself out there in new, creative, and excruciatingly hard ways since my husband of twenty-five years went home to be with the Lᴏʀᴅ. I’ve discovered grief groups both online as well as in person. I’ve read books on grief, loss, hardship, and the Lᴏʀᴅ’s faithfulness. In fact, I’m even writing a book of my own on the topic. I’m doing grief work with a trauma therapist and I’ve remained open with faithful friends, my family, and total strangers in the airplane seat beside me. I even attended a widows conference where I was loved and cherished through the testimony and encouragement of women who have gone before me on this journey. 

Yet what has helped me the most in grieving well is when I’ve been given a space to celebrate my loved one. 

As a single parent of adult children, I am very intentional about teaching my own kids how to come alongside someone who is grieving the loss of a loved one. My kids are all too familiar with grief, losing their dad after a long, hard battle. Even still, losing your soul mate is a different kind of loss. Being open and honest about my grief helps them better understand the differences in grief. And understanding the process of grief helps us better comfort others. I want my adult children to be equipped in encouraging those in widowhood. 

Recently, a stranger gave me a space to celebrate my loved one and it had a profound impact on me. Here’s what happened…

I walked into a public library and stopped at the doorway of a room playing a video of Max Lucado. I love that man’s words! I thought the room was empty, so I rushed in like I had the right to be there. One lone man of God was faithfully sitting next to the display explaining what the room was being used for. He was renting a room in the library each week to share the gospel with the public. I sat down and pointed to the screen. “I love Max Lucado! And I love Jesus!” 

He met my enthusiasm and that ushered us into a ‘God-moment,’ where two strangers shared their testimonies of God’s faithfulness and goodness, recognizing that we were brother and sister in Christ. We spent the entire hour chatting about God, his goodness, our need for him, and his faithfulness to us. 

He mentioned his men’s bible study and I shared with him gold nuggets my husband learned from a similar group in his life. I shared so many things I learned through my husband: patience, value and worth in others, forgiveness, teamwork in marriage, as well as the faithfulness my husband displayed to God in his 8-year battle with cancer. As our conversation ended and my daughter came to find me, my new friend looked at my daughter, clasping his hands to his chest as he said, “Young lady, you were blessed with one incredible father. Oh! I wish I could have known him!” 

In that moment, a space had been created by a total stranger for me to celebrate my loved one who was no longer with me. And my heart burned with the satisfaction of knowing I honored my husband, remembered him, and expressed how much of a treasure he was to me, my family, and our community. 

I floated through the rest of my day due to that simple opportunity God had given me to talk about my husband, pass on some nuggets of wisdom from him, and celebrate with a man who never met Mark, but who longed to have had my husband in his life. 

I realized that day that God often gives me these opportunities to share my husband with others. Sometimes it’s with my adult children as we gather just to be together. We laugh at Dad’s goofy spirit, as well as how the youngest child pushed all of his buttons and how our oldest daughter is so much like him. 

Other times this happens when I am mentoring someone, and I draw from all I was blessed to learn from a loving, patient, strong husband. Still other times something will remind me of his humor or his faith and I decide to say it out loud to whoever is there in the moment. I am so grateful when God provides a space to celebrate my husband in his absence. 

Creating this space to celebrate is a beautiful gift for a widow or widower.  I am not the only one who’s lost someone they cherish; a husband, wife, child, parent, or grandparent, and who would love to have a space created for them in a conversation to take a moment and celebrate their loved one. 

So the next time you find yourself sitting on an airplane, or your church pew, or your front porch, across from someone grieving a loved one, create a space for them to celebrate.

It’s not hard. No tools required. No heavy lifting. Just a quick question, two ears to listen, and a willing heart to allow that grieving person to take a moment and celebrate. Here’s a good place to start: “Tell me what he was like!”

And let the waterfall of memories, words of wisdom, humor, and the treasure of the one they loved will flow. 

The best way to teach our children, whether young or grown adults, is to live it out loud. Practice creating a space for someone in grief to celebrate their loved one. Then, share with your children the joy you both gave and received from this conversation. 

And on behalf of those who are grieving, thank you in advance! 

Consider a few extra resources:

About the Author:

Tina Akridge

I’m Tina, a mother of four exceptional adult children: William, Emma, Kathryn & her husband Micah, and Josiah, who live all over the United States. I am a widow, married 25 ½ years to a beautiful man who loved God and loved us unconditionally, and who was great at providing, protecting, engaging, goofing around, and genuinely doing life with us! Every part of our story points to an Involved, Loving, Present God who lavishes us with every good gift and generously blesses us in our undeserving! Mark, my husband, was such a tangible example of the love of our Father God. 

As you visit my website, blog, or Facebook page, I hope you will be covered up in the grace and presence of our Heavenly Father! I also hope that your resolve to live out your faith through whatever experience of life you’re walking in right now is edified, celebrated, strengthened, and encouraged here, as together we pause and absorb Abba’s words of grace! I want to share scriptures and devotions that have transformed my thinking and strengthened my inner being! 

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