Many of us seek solace in prayer and in church. The familiar rituals and spending time alone with God can be comforting and restorative to our souls and our wounded hearts. Believing in God's divine plan can make sense out of the senseless. And knowing that we will one day be reunited with our loved ones is sometimes the one thing that gets us through.

"The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18

It is also crucial to our healing that we begin to take the vitally important steps to resume our lives. We can't necessarily rush this process, but isolating ourselves for too long only exacerbates the pain of grief and can contribute to the development of depression.

And while certain events—attending a child's birthday party when you have recently lost yours—may be too painful in the beginning, it is important to start participating in the everyday occasions of your life and the lives of your family and friends. Go back to work, to church, volunteer, have dinner or lunch with friends. We may not feel like it at first, but after a few weeks or months, it is healthy and helpful to engage in the regular routine of life again.

Your grief process is not going to be exactly like anyone else's. No one knows exactly how YOU feel. But grief counseling or attending a support group with people who have experienced a similar loss can be very therapeutic--for you AND for them.

Sharing with others who have lost loved ones to suicide has been helpful for me. That type of loss is a unique one that only survivors can truly understand. But so is losing a spouse, a child, a parent, a life-partner and even a pet. So let others minister to your needs. You just may discover that you have something valuable to offer to them as well, and you may find comfort in your shared experiences.

Go easy on yourself. This is unfamiliar territory, so use the resources at your disposal and be willing to enter life again at some point. Make that a primary goal. It is the principal way that you will prevent your grief from overtaking your life. Your loved one wants you to go on, to live life, to find peace, joy and love. You would want the same for anyone you love.

Life is a precious gift, but it comes at a price. The price of living is FEELING—and feeling everything. The joy, the pain, the passion, the agony. For without the darkness, we wouldn't recognize the light.

And that is perhaps, the greatest lesson that grief has to offer us--to seize this gift of life while it is ours to live. To revel in the WHOLE experience and to never take one moment, one breath for granted. That is the essence of this, and all journeys.

"Happiness lies for those who cry, those who hurt, those who have searched and those who have tried, for only they can appreciate the importance of people who have touched their lives through the love of God."
~ Unknown Author

Deborah J. Thompson is a writer, artist and Stephen Minister. Her articles are published by Crosswalk.com and "The Fish" family of Christian radio station websites around the country. She shares "Reflections" on Life and Relationships on her website, www.inspiredreflections.info. And she is working on her first book, Your Life, Your Choice, which gives 5 simple steps to harness the power of your choices and bring more Love, Joy and Peace into your life. Join her on Facebook and Twitter/InspireReflect.

Publication date: September 28, 2010