From pain to peace: providing comfort after loss

Coping with loss is one of the hardest things anyone will ever have to deal with. This loss could be the death of someone but also divorce as it’s the death of future hopes and dreams. Knowing how to comfort someone can greatly affect their demeanor. The recovery environment for someone who has suffered loss is vital for their mental well being. We don’t want to make it worse by saying the wrong thing.  Sadly, many mothers have said that their loss has been made more heart wrenching by hurtful and stinging comments made by others who never stopped to think how what they said had an effect on these grieving mothers.

The reward for consoling a person is huge in Islam; Ibn Masood narrated that rasulAllah (sallilahu alayhi wa sallam) said that whoever consoles a person afflicted receives the same reward as the person affected.

There are 42 other losses other that the loss of a loved one but the 2 main ones are:

  • the death of a beloved one
  • divorce ( loss of future hopes and dreams)

 

Prophets affected by loss

Any loss can cause grief like the loss of success or a business or money etc.  We know that many of the prophets were afflicted with loss such as:

  • prophet Adam (alayhis salaam) who was tested until death
  • prophet Nuh (alayhis salaam) who cried for 300 years
  • prophet Ibrahim (alayhis salaam) who was thrown into a pit of fire and then commanded to slaughter his own son
  • prophet Yaqub (alayhis salaam) who cried until he went blind
  • prophet Musa (alayhis salaam) who had to face Firaun and had his own people reject him
  • prophet Isa (alayhis salaam) who had no provisions except what his disciples brought for him
  • prophet Muhammad (sallilahu alayhi wa sallam) whose uncle was slain and was mutilated and mocked by his own people.

As people, we know how to acquire things but when we lose something or someone we don’t know what to do and we say what others expect us to say like “I’m doing fine” instead of saying how we really feel; we don’t show it.  As children we naturally release our emotions like happiness and sadness, so what is it that changes as we grow older that makes us feel that we can’t express our grief?  The answer is people; people judge us and our eeman plummets, they say things to hurt us further, things that do not comfort us.  When our feelings bottle up we end up exploding and that can be very dangerous.

 

TOOLS FOR COPING WITH LOSS:

  1. Trust in Allah swt through your grief; Allah swt loves you, He will never rob you or place any burden on you greater than you can bear, if you can do that then you are granted victory regardless of your situation.  You are not alone, Allah swt is your companion, for the one who has none has Allah al-Wadud, The Loving.  Your loss is unique to you and cannot be compared to others as everyone is different and unique.  Umm Musa put her faith in Allah swt when she had to conceal her pregnancy from Firaun’s guards amd give birth in secret and then put her baby upon the sea.  She was rewarded by being reunited with her baby and being able to feed him from herself and was even given a wage for doing this subhanallah!
  2. Express your emotions of grief fully; give yourself comfort and TLC.  Tears are a mercy from Allah and there is nothing wrong with shedding them.  Give yourself permission to grieve, people who don’t show any emotion are either dead or psychopaths, it’s normal to feel grief.

 

HOW TO COMFORT SOMEONE AFFLICTED BY GRIEF

There are 2 types of statements: butterfly statements that help you rise up and fly through your grief into the new person you have become, and bee statements that are practical and heartfelt yet sting like a bee.  Butterfly statements are supportive and uplifting.  Many people think saying “be patient” is what we should say to someone grieving but there are many ways of helping someone and comforting without using commanding words.  RasulAllah (sallilahu alayhi wa sallam) said “whoever fulfils the needs of others, Allah [swt] will fulfil his needs”.  When you reach out to others, Allah swt will reach out to you.

  1. Acknowledge the grief and the grieving person, don’t avoid them or avoid talking about the loss because you don’t know what to say as its worse; a mother stated that though she may cry if someone mentioned her child’s name, the pain was worse and she hurt more when they didn’t.  Say to the grieving person “I can’t imagine what you’re going through but am so sorry for your loss and am heartbroken for you”.  Sharing some memories of the loved one can help a lot also.
  2. Understand the impact of the loss; don’t expect people to ‘get over it’ or tell them to ‘quit wallowing’.  There is no set time-line for getting over grief, they can’t get over it because it will always be there with them forever and they are not who they once were they have become a new person.
  3. Listen: hear them and let them talk because this maybe their only opportunity of describing their loss.
  4. Remind: offer grievers reminders from the Qur’an like Umm Musa; each story has a reason for being told in the Qur’an – to make our hearts firm.
  5. Make Dua: remember them in your Dua on a regular basis and pray for them to find peace and make it through this difficult transition.

Through empathy the beautiful characteristics of a person are demonstrated and remember, Allah swt loves kindness.

 

Taken from the talk of Hafizah Ismail  (founder and director of Children of Jannah),  at the ‘Being me’ conference 2012.

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