The Waves of Grief

It's been four long years since I've seen my beautiful mama's face, and yet it feels just like yesterday when I hugged her before she went into the ambulance for the last time. People handle grief so differently, and not way is the right way---your way is what counts. There is no 'right' or 'wrong' too grieving. When my dad died nine years ago, it was such a strange feeling. The long drawn-out, excruciating suffering that went on made is passing more of a sad relief. We were all quiet. Grief struck differently, in waves, and for myself, it came a bit after his funeral. I had already experienced the 'anticipatory grief,' as he was suffering at the end. I remember his funeral all too well. I was greeting people as they came in, while my mom sat in the front with her sister and friend. The memorial video was set up to make people laugh and cry. Some video footages of my dad captured his very essence: funny and 'colorful' with his words. 

Laughter Is the Best Medicine 

As a friend of my sister's approached me, someone who I normally joke around with. He gave his condolences, and I said thank you, along with a funny comment to lighten it up, and then he said to me, "This is not the place to be making jokes. Not appropriate." I said, "Who are you to tell me how I can grieve or what I can do at my own father's funeral?" People there were reminiscing about my dad, telling their funny stories 'of a time when' and it was okay to laugh. There's nothing like being yourself and being genuine when sending someone off for the very last time. 

It's okay to laugh. It's okay to smile. It's okay to wear loud colors at the funeral if you want. Do you truly think the deceased is calculating the details? I know for me, if I was floating around looking at my own funeral, I would tell people to chill the frig out and lighten up. Death is not the end, and people who are grieving need laughter like you don't even know. 

The best thing that happened to me after my mama died was Madelene's sister who was staying with us. She helped us so much. It was so nice to hear laughter in the other room, or someone with a lightheartedness to eat dinner with. I know that without a doubt, I would've been crippled with unbearable grief if she wasn't there. She kept Madelene company when I had to run to my bedroom and cry my eyes out. And then afterwards, I came back out to join them by the fire pit, or at the dinner table to at least be around some positivity. It was needed. 

Don't ever feel guilty for smiling, laughing, joking or doing something that you enjoy while you're grieving. It's all part of the process. Grief comes in waves, and when the waves of happiness and laughter come crashing through, take that opportunity and soak it in. Let it stay for a while, until the next wave comes, where you can purge your heart out. All of it is okay. 

Numbing the Pain

I made the mistake of numbing the pain with countless bottles of wine. I drank so much that it started affecting my heart and giving me arrhythmia. I already was suffering from "broken heart syndrome," and drinking like there was no tomorrow only made things worse. I didn't know why my heart was beating at 200 bpm, and why I was constantly at the ER. My cardiologist finally said, "One day, your heart is just gonna get tired." I knew from that point on, I would never touch a drink again. The alcohol dilates your blood vessels making the heart work harder. In stressful situations, it can cause what's called, tachycardia, (a fast heart rate.) With time, this can turn into afib -- atrial fibrillation. Some people who have this condition are often carted off into the emergency rooms usually after Thanksgiving or Christmas Eve due to eating and drinking way too much. They call this, "holiday heart syndrome." Needless to say, numbing my grief with alcohol prolonged my grief a great deal. I never fully got to purge my heart out properly. After I quit drinking, the emotions rose to the service and I was able to get it all out---well, most of it out. But now I'm at a place of acceptance that I've never experienced before. I still get sad here and there, but it's not debilitating any longer. I don't lose days over it. But this is a personal issue I had to work through. Everyone is different, so if a glass or two of wine helps you to unwind at night, then I say have at it. But if you see that it becomes a struggle to get through the next day, you might want to reel it in. 

Where Did Everyone Go?

With grief comes the absence of friends sometimes. Sadly, this is a very common occurrence and often happens after the funeral itself. All the calls, the voicemails and texts start getting less and less. The offers of "what can I do" become nonexistent, and you find yourself standing in the middle of your living room alone. There's a couple of reasons for this. Remember, your friends and family are also possibly grieving, where they're unable to even help themselves right now, and some people feel awkward to call, or they feel bad and don't want to bother you. They may think that you're surrounded by grieving family and don't want to become a burden on you. Others may feel a sense of fear that this may happen to them, and so even the thought or inclination of this happening in their own lives may cause them to pull away for a short period of time. It's all fear-based. It may be 'too close to home' for them to handle, not realizing that their friend needs them right now. This is also normal and very common. Just learn to forgive and focus on your own wellness and healing. 

Psychics and Mediums

Stop. Do you seriously believe a psychic is drumming up your deceased loved one? Or would you rather believe that your loved one is in the hands of your God? When psychics drum up anything, they're called, "familiar spirits." Familiar spirits is not of God---they are demons and they know everything about you. They know about the locket you have hidden in your nightstand where you sleep, and they can also recall that time at the beach where you lost your flipflop and had to walk barefoot on the boardwalk. They will conjure up memories and items that there is no possible way for anyone else to know. But don't believe it is your loved one. This is a portal where spirits can actually follow you, attach themselves to you and wreak havoc in your life. Anything that has to do with psychics, oracle cards, tarot cards, crystals or saving ceremony is all a part of witchcraft. Please be careful. These are my own beliefs backed up by the Bible. 

"Do not turn to mediums or necromancers; do not seek them out, and so make yourselves unclean by them. I am the Lord your God."---Leviticus 19;31

"If a person turns to mediums and necromancers, whoring after them, I will set my face against that person and will cut him off among his people." ---Leviticus 20:6

"Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world." ---1 John 4:1

"And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light." ---2 Corinthians 11:14

If you're a Christian and seeking out mediums and psychics, this can be detrimental for your salvation! I did this too and found out the hard way. 

For instance, when my mom died, I remember sitting in my living room at 3am reading something online. I heard my mom's voice calling out, "Debbie!!!" (As if she was excited to get through the veil.) Now, whether or not it was her is the question, but something didn't feel right. My spirit knew it wasn't her. It was the devil mocking her voice to get me to inquire more about spirits and ghosts. I ran out of the room and jumped into my bed and cried out for Jesus. I remember that so vividly too. So now when I 'hear' from my mom, it's a subtle hint, like her birthday numbers coming up, or a feather on the ground, even dimes and a seashell I found on our lawn. Weird stuff that can't be explained. Treasure the little gifts that your loved ones' spirits can bring, but don't seek them out with theses psychics....please. 

The best way for me to honor my loved ones, is keeping their legend alive. Whatever your loved one did, try to replicate it or celebrate it. I take all of my mom's recipes and recreate her dishes. We used to cook together, so she used to show me how to make soups and how to make a good Sunday sauce. My dad was also a good cook and I remember him teaching me how to cut properly with good knives. I can tell you other things I learned from Dad, but I'd probably go to jail. (ha) 

Let it All Out

Your grief is your own. Let it come out when you feel it---don't hold it in. Remember, your tears are letting out stress hormones. You know how they say, "crying is good for you?" Believe it. Studies of the various kinds of tears have found that emotional tears contain higher levels of stress hormones than do reflex tears (the ones that form when you get something in your eye). Emotional tears also contain more mood-regulating manganese than the other types. Stress "tightens muscles and heightens tension, so when you cry you release some of that---crying activates the parasympathetic nervous system and restores the body to a state of balance. That's why you feel a relief afterwards. 

Take care of you, because in most cases, nobody else is going to do it. They may try, but you're the best person who knows how to make you feel better. Pray continuously and know that you're not alone. God is with you every step of the way.

For more of Deb's articles, please visit: or join her on Facebook and Twitter. Check out her cooking blog at for some of her famous recipes!