Grey Skies and Grief…


I woke up early to the sounds of thunder and flashes of lightening illuminating the room.  By the time I walked out into the kitchen, the rain had begun.  A typical Minnesota Spring storm…nothing unusual…just feeling a bit strange since we hadn’t had a storm like this for several months when winter was upon us.

There is something about a storm…the heavy rain pounding on the roof,  the sheets of water creating a somewhat eerie veil of grey everywhere I look.  The roar of the thunder causes me to slightly jump when it cracks loudly to get my attention.  It all feels a bit surreal as I look out from my home onto our wooded property.

I imagine this is how my nephew and niece are feeling this week after losing their baby as they were starting the second trimester of the pregnancy.   I imagine this is how it feels when my friend has to take each new first since her husband a few months ago (this week it was the family picture first without him physically at their sides).

Grey Skies,  sadness,  tears falling hard like rain… how can we possibly comfort someone when they are dealing within the depths of grief?

I read a book many months ago and it literally changed my view about death and grieving.  The book is called Heaven is for Real, written by Todd Burpo.  Todd is the father of Colton Burpo who became severely ill as a little boy and he died for a few minutes on the operating table.  Colton came back from that brief death to tell an amazing story about Heaven.  A story that allows us a glimpse into that unknown place that most of us have been taught about but are really not sure where it is or what it looks like.

Since I have read this book,  I have been driven to share this book anytime someone I know has had a loved one die.  I gave the book to my 97 year old mother and she was able to let go of the deep grief that has been in her heart for fifty years after the death of her son.  I gave the book to my girlfriend who gave it to her mother who had a stillborn child over fifty years ago and that book then started making it around her apartment complex for the older women to share.

We gave this book to my mom’s good friend over Christmas when she was grieving due to the anniversary of the death of her son who had died over fifty years ago.  Not only was she grieving for Scotty, but she was dealing with her own mortality because it appeared her cancer was back.  She said she read the book two times right after we gave it to her and it meant so much to her.  She died last week.

I also gave the book to my friend who’s husband had died and she said that it answered some questions that she had been wrestling with and it reaffirmed what she believed.  If you read the book,  you will see that Heaven is so beautiful that it is hard to describe… the colors incredibly amazing… and our loves ones are whole again…

Most cultures and religions have some sort of belief of an afterlife… why?  Because we need to have hope and cling on to the faith that living our short lives on this earth is only a journey and someday we will be reunited with those we have loved and lost.

So how can we help and comfort someone in the grey veil of grief?

  1. Reach out to them and tell them you are thinking about them.  Send them a card,  pick up the phone,  email them.  Anything to purposefully reach out and tell them that you care.
  2. Don’t be afraid to talk about their loved one… people do not want the person they loved to be forgotten.
  3. Give them a copy of the book Heaven is for Real by Todd Burpo.
  4. Remember to reach out a month, two months, six months and regularly thereafter to see how they are doing.  When someone dies,  the family is surrounded by many but it is the firsts (first holiday, first birthday, first family gathering… first family picture) that are the times when a little emotional support goes a long way.

As with grey days,  the skies will open up to glimpses of blue and the rays of the sun will shine through.  The rain will nourish the earth and flowers will bloom…

To my nephew and niece… the book has been purchased and is on its way with my prayers, my love and my comfort flowing out to you…

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