How do you handle the death of a loved one as a single person?
It’s a borderline selfish question that doesn’t seem quite as selfish once you break it down. Whether it’s a family member, dear friend, life partner, or spouse, the loss still sucks and is incredibly hard at any level. I’ve had a lot of losses in my life. By 19, I witnessed the burial of a teenage cousin, uncle, great grandmother, and two grandparents.
It was a 70/30 split on the expectation of their deaths, but each one produced a loss. Three happened over a year. In my early 20s, I felt the psychological loss of my father, who was a shell of who he used to be, because of an intense accident. By my mid-thirties, I had lost three of my favorite people in the whole world. One who had a considerable hand in shaping me into who I am today. In 2020, I suddenly lost my younger sister and three close friends. I’ve recently seen someone lose their spouse. Becoming not only a widow but also a single parent. I couldn’t imagine the pain, and I cried for them.
I feel like Jeremiah “Why has my pain been perpetual And my wound incurable, refusing to be healed?” 15:18
The loss just sucks. I paint this mournful portrait not to drum up pity or concern but to show I’m no stranger to loss. I know we all leave this world at some point. Our individual timelines vary just as our physical bodies and personalities do. But as I lay here, wide awake at 2:00 am (a grief side effect, I’m sure), I find tears rolling down my face at losing anyone else in my life. I go and listen to my mother’s snoring as proof of life. And with her signature sound, I write my minor panic off as an overreaction and begin to write this.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” – Matthew 11:28
Back to the original question… how do you deal with death as a single person? When we lost my sister, I saw my brother-in-law (a different sister’s husband) swoop in and become this rock for our family. I watched couples console one another, which built a safe space to let out their tears and fears and be vulnerable.
How does someone do this alone?
- Everyone processes differently– I look at Eva’s passing. My mom, sister, and I all three processed it totally differently. My mom wanted silence and solitude, and DeeDee wanted only her immediate family around. I tried to crawl up in someone’s arms and just be held. Everyone’s version looks different.
- Psalm 34:18 “The LORD is near the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
- You’re not really alone – even if silence and solitude is your process, God is sitting beside you, ready for whatever you have for Him. As cliche as it sounds, I felt like I was just wrapped in His arms and surrounded by His love. It also may have been the weighted blanket.
- Psalm 34:19 “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.”
- Let people love you – just because it’s not romantic love doesn’t mean it’s not love and a gift sent from God. My friends were relentless in showing me care and support. One of my dearest friends texted or called every day until I told her I was okay. Y’all, if that’s not a divinely delivered friend, I don’t know who is.
- John 13:35 “Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”
You are complete in Christ.
Your singleness doesn’t mean you don’t have support and love around you to help you get through the pain and grief. God puts these beautiful humans in your path exactly when you need them. He also is there, waiting for your relationship to begin. I can say from experience, even in my anger and frustration, God never left my side. He showed Himself in all these little ways, reminding me I’m not alone.
It took time, and I still struggle with the idea of being “alone” when my next loved one dies, but remembering that I have community and friends who will love me through my loss and my relationship with God will sustain me through those times are by far the most effective tools I have.