Today, I want to honour my Earthly Father Colin Gault who was promoted to Heaven on the 9th of July 1994 aged 30. He died very suddenly from an misdiagnosed illness leaving behind my amazing mother, my sister Rian (aged 2) and myself (aged 6).
My Dad was wild and adventurous, he loved the Ocean and outdoor pursuits, he was a crazy driver and had an incredible sense of humour. But most of all, he was renown for his love and devotion to his family. By all who knew him he was a great man who left a hole in many peoples hearts when he passed away.
Grief never really goes away, it just changes
Grief is a funny thing…. People expect the pain in your heart to vanish and go away and yet 23 years later its still here, we just stop talking about it because it has become intricately part of who we are. It doesn’t demobilise you anymore or manifest in destructive behaviour, it doesn’t hurt when you breathe or keep you up at night. But it’s still there, it’s just changed.
There is no right or wrong way to grieve
Everybody grieves differently. There is no right or wrong way to grieve just as there is no definitive time period where we should have processed our emotions and ‘moved on’. I have walked through my own grief and walked beside others on their journey and we all process grief differently and that’s okay. We can not set false expectations on people who are walking through this harrowing path, telling them to ‘have more joy’or to ‘just let go’ because it doesn’t help at all but leaves the person feeling condemned and ashamed.
We need to give people space for their struggles and have grace to see beyond the manifestation of their suffering and not try to ‘fix them’. One thing that helped us was when people felt comfortable talking about my Father in our presence. For some reason, after someone dies, their existence becomes a ‘taboo subject‘ and we walk on eggshells around the people left behind. But part of grief is honouring their life and talking about them and the impact they had in the world. Asking people about their lost loved ones creates a safe space where they can validate their grief and not feel awkward talking about it. It helps them to heal and become stronger, it releases bottled up emotions and breathes life into cherished memories.
Grief changes everything
Loosing someone one you love was not part of your plan! Not only do you grieve the loss of not having them with you in that moment, but you grieve the loss of every moment they will miss. You can never be prepared for death, it comes like a thief in the night stealing the ones we love.
Loosing my Dad impacted my life so dramatically, it changed how I seen everything and how I approached life. For a long time I was terrified to do anything or hope for anything in case someone else died. I lived in fear or something happening to Mum and had even orchestrated an action plan on how I could look after my sister and I. None of this was part of the plan, but it happened.
Beauty from ashes
Although at the time, we could not have seen how anything good could have come from such a loss, with hindsight, we can see the bigger picture. After the loss of her husband and raising two kids on her own, Mum was impassioned to make a difference into other peoples lives in the same situation. Mum started working with several groups helping families overcome grief and divorce and has since helped countless numbers of people along their journey.
You are not alone
If you’re out there and have lost someone whether it be a partner, parent, unborn child, a friend etc but feel like you can’t express it because it was so long ago, I want to tell you that you aren’t on your own! It’s ok to be sad, its ok to cry! Its ok to wonder what they would look like or grieve for the fact they won’t know their grandchildren or be there at your wedding! I want to encourage you and validate your grief! Because It’s ok to grieve, its ok to cry! Some days it will be hard to get up, others you’ll feel guilty for enjoying yourself, but eventually things will calm down and reach a ‘new normal’.
Please don’t feel like you are on your own, reach out to someone! Speak to someone you love or speak to someone professional. There are so many incredible counselling services, (Christian Guidelines, Anchor Counselling, East Antrim Counselling), as well as support groups such as Griefshare who have groups all over Northern Ireland.
Jesus sanctified grief
Jesus lost his earthly Father Joseph and he also lost his cousin John the baptist who was beheaded! He was so overwhelmed with grief that he got into a boat and withdrew to process his emotion. You see?
It’s ok to be sad, it’s ok to withdraw and work through how you’re feeling, Jesus sanctified grief and made it holy.
So if you’re out there and you’re lonely, your hearts a little heavy or maybe reading this has touched a nerve that you’ve tried to suppress and block out for a while, please know that you aren’t on your own. Reach out to someone but most of all ask your Heavenly Father to come and comfort you with His Holy spirit.