Losing my husband lit a burning wildfire that spread across my chest, turning the things I loved into ash. I didn’t sugarcoat that pain. I wrote about it over the past few years. And despite the searing pain, I continued to live and write and be, even when I didn’t want to.
Now in the aftermath of it all, I'm often asked: "how does one overcome grief?"
People want to understand how to climb out of such a dark place, and I get it. So I automatically respond with prepared bullet points: patience, connecting to the Quran, dua, faithful friends.
Beautiful answer, but it still doesn't reach the core of the issue.
The problem is, the question being asked of me is fundamentally flawed.
It’s as though we’re trying to live a life free of these terrible, agonizing emotions of sadness, loss, grief, anger. These feelings are uncomfortable, so we ask – how can we get rid of them?
The short answer is: we can’t.
We don't choose what tests come our way. Allah (swt) chooses. Our tests come in waves – sometimes gently, coaxing us towards remembrance, and sometimes with so much force that we’re nearly knocked off our feet.
We will inhabit these pockets of grief and stress many, many times over in our lives. If we become preoccupied with the idea that we have to “get over” these feelings, we’re going to lose ourselves in a battle we can’t win.
This is life: a string of happy-sad-successful-pained moments knotted together from birth to death. But we are naively trying to untie these knots and snip out the parts that aren’t pretty.
Instead of constantly trying to “overcome” pain, what if we accepted every emotion that came our way? What if we stopped asking “how does one overcome grief?” and instead ask:
“How does one thrive in moments of grief?”
Prophet Muhammad (saw) said in a beautiful hadith: “How wonderful is the affair of the believer, for his affairs are all good, and this applies to no one but the believer. If something good happens to him, he is thankful for it and that is good for him. If something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience and that is good for him.”
Every single test, every pang of sorrow, every moment of joy, every spot of disappointment is good for you if you know how to use it, how to thrive in it.
What's important is how we use our circumstances and our emotions to fulfill our ultimate purpose which is the worship of Allah.
Maybe our hearts will be more at ease when we accept that we’re not trying to overcome anything. We’re trying to thrive – not just despite our pain, but maybe even because of it.
I remind myself that this world is temporary. Our existence is fleeting. Our heartbreaks will soon be lifted. And a sorrow-free existence is reserved for paradise: "And they will say, 'Praise to Allah, who has removed from us [all] sorrow. Indeed, our Lord is Forgiving and Appreciative...'" (35:34).
May Allah grant it to us.