Kifah Mustapha
Coping With Grief 
 
Tears were coming from the Prophet’s eyes upon the death of his son Ibrahim. His companions asked of such a matter, assuming that being a prophet meant a level of faith that is solid and strong in which submission to the will of God by accepting death means the absence of such feelings and emotions! The Prophet (PBUH) said, “The eye shall cry and the heart shall be sad and we shall say only what pleases our Lord. By God O Ibrahim we are by (your loss) in sorrow.”  In simple terms, the Prophet (PBUH) was grieving and it was ok to cry.
 
Loss is hard to cope with and no one can deny that. Pain shall be felt and grief might be prolonged the closer you are to the one who died. My mother’s picture stayed on my computer screen for about four months after her death. I rarely have dreams, but after her death I saw her almost every week at least once in my dreams! I remember reading a statement a few months after her death that said: “A man will always feel young until his mother dies.” I was so touched by that statement, and I was overwhelmed with a feeling of loneliness.
 
In these lines I will share my own perception about coping with grief as there is no standard formula that works for all. Each person is a unique blend of feelings, emotions and character, and because of that each one would need his own personal way to cope with grief. Maybe some readers will be seeking answers to their own grief, as I am still trying to cope with my own grief by writing this article. I just hope that my experience might be an insight to others in one way or another. For me it was faith, time and social support that helped me cope with grief.
 
I am an Imam in a very busy Mosque in Chicago. Every year we have an average of 100 to 120 funerals; that is around two funerals a week. I attend the wakes prior to the burials; I lead prayers in the funeral; I join the family at the cemetery; I follow up with a visit offering condolences after the burial; and each time I speak words of comfort that I hope will help people cope with their grief. I thought I was ready for my own grief scenario, but I was not!  It hit me so hard and left me in a state of shock. Three days after I flew back to the US from Lebanon, where I had been staying with my cancer battling mother, she died. For the first moment I was in denial, I could not believe what I heard! I remembered how great companions of the Prophet (PBUH) did not believe his death!  I did not feel that I was any less of faith but rather going through what a normal human full of love would react to the loss of the one he loves the most.
 
I know I am a believer, I submit to the will of God. I am a Muslim who truly believes in Divine Destiny (Qadar), but I had to be alone to cry and process things by myself. That was my personal way of dealing with grief. My faith eased this wave of being in shock for I remembered that even though I had my mother for as long as I remember, I knew she was not mine. She was His, and He (Allah) decided to take her back to Him. I said what I believe is the truth: {To God we do belong and to Him we are returning} 2:156.  I believe in eternal life and that death is the end of this phase on earth, but it is also the beginning of another in the grave connecting to the Day after. It will not be long until I will join her in Heaven (God willing).  Heaven was meant to be the true life of eternity, pleasure and comfort. This is how my faith helped me cope with my grief.
 
Time, for me, meant healing by utilizing time through good deeds. I sought refuge using time in the remembrance of God, reading the Holy Quran, visiting her grave (yes, I flew back the same day to Lebanon), making supplications for her, and yes, looking through all the photo albums we had in our family house with her pictures in it. I used my time in things that made me feel I am honoring her. I asked my sister to cook my mother’s favorite food for me. I visited the people, especially family members, she liked to visit. I gave money to all those in need who used to visit her every year after Ramadan to ask for donations, and I asked them to make supplications (Dua) for her. I missed her a lot and I still do.
 
Having all the family around me during the days of condolences helped me a lot. There was one thing in common between all of us, we all loved her and we all missed her. People shared their memories, beautiful days and hard days, and I felt that she is still inside each one of us; the feeling of loneliness was not as hard on me at that time. The presence of family and friends brought peace to my heart.
 
Almost three years after her death now she is still remembered as the greatest gift God gave me besides being a Muslim. My grief was and is still a reminder that I am a human being, a son and a believer. To all those who have lost a mother, a father, a child or any person close to them; I hope and pray that you will be able to cope with your grief and that you may find peace in ways that comfort you.
 
{O peaceful soul! Return to your Lord, well-pleased and well-pleasing. And so, enter among My [beloved} servants. And enter My [Everlasting] Garden} 89:27/30. 
 
Sh. Kifah Mustapha