“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted…” Psalm 34:18
It’s officially been nine months. Nine months without that sweet encourager, prayer warrior, faithful friend, and mother of mine. Not a day goes by that I don’t think of her and miss her. I will always miss her. My life has forever changed. As a dear friend of mine said, “You will never be the same.” As much as I hate change, I’m learning her statement is very true. I’ve had to slowly and painfully, but prayerfully accept that. Whether you walk the grief journey with God or not, whether you want to persevere or not, grief can teach you invaluable lessons. During my thirteen week journey through my GriefShare support group, we spent time discussing lessons of grief. So I’d like to share three lessons I have learned thus far.
Grief Is Messy
Because grief is intense, it will be messy. It is chaotic, painful, and confusing. I remember thinking for so long that I was going crazy and losing my mind. My emotions were all over the place, and I couldn’t remember things. I was experiencing what is often found in the “tangled ball of emotions.” Your body is experiencing so many different emotions over and over again, and it is exhausting. Eventually, I learned that this is normal. Any time you love someone deeply, you will experience grief when that person is no longer here in this lifetime with you.
With this messiness comes the unpredictability of grief. You may think you are making progress in your grief, but then you hear that one song or pass that one restaurant your loved one loved. And then you are hit with the fresh weight of the pain all over again. I remember the first time this happened to me around Christmas time. I somehow thought looking at Christmas decorations would be comforting when actually it did the opposite. Seeing the words “Oh Holy Night” on a piece of wall decor caused me to have a flood of tears in the middle of Wal-Mart. Any hymn or Tammy Wynett’s famous Stand By Your Man takes me back to a multitude of memories with my mom. Those unexpected moments sting, but it’s healing to feel the pain and express your emotion rather than suppress it.
Grief Is Best Lived In Community AND With Solitude
This is a hard one to live out. It takes work. But there are benefits to both. For many it’s easy to sink into a deep depression or resort to solitude. I know the feeling. You think no one will understand what you are feeling. You may feel alone in this season because you don’t see anyone else walking through it perhaps. But when you do choose the moments of isolation, remember God is still with you even there. Try to make the most of those moments with Him; God wants to walk through that pain and darkness with you. He loves you, and grieves with you.
On the other hand, we were “created for community” as we often hear. In the early days of grief, however, sometimes being with people is the last thing we want. It can be exhausting trying to have a conversation or even just getting out of bed in the morning. We may worry what other people are thinking or maybe someone has already said something insensitive to you. When one is not going through grief, it can feel awkward, and a lot of times people don’t know what to say, so they may not say anything at all, which can be hurtful to some too. Some simple but healthy ways to find this community could be a support group, a walk with a friend or mentor, or just sharing a meal with a few people. Not only can we experience God’s presence with us, but he also sends amazing people into our lives to walk through the hurt with us.
“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” Matthew 5:4
It’s Ok To Be Mad At God
God doesn’t expect us to be perfect. It’s very normal to feel anger in grief, especially at God. I still have days where I find myself mad at God. I have questioned him over and over. I have questioned his goodness. I have told Him His plan could have gone a better way, that His way has caused more stress than peace. I have explained to him that this all seems so unfair. But the important thing is not to let that anger stay there, but rather talk to God Himself about it. He wants to know our hearts and feelings, even when we are angry. We are blessed to have a Heavenly Father who we can always come to with our every need and frustration. He is always present with us, and He longs for us to come to Him. “For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses” as Hebrews 4:15 reminds us. He is our true Comforter even when we may not desire to be comforted.
No matter where you are in your grief, you are not alone. For thirteen weeks I would go sit in a room with a small group of grieving individuals, and we would attempt to work through the messes together. People are grieving all around us. I still have nights of crying myself to sleep. I have moments of desperation where I tell God, “I would give anything just to have one more moment with my mom.” I still have days where I struggle to get out the door to church. Wherever you are, remember to press into God, tell Him how you feel, and cling to the hope we have in Him. You won’t feel this a first, but it will help heal your grieving heart.
“Grief never ends…But it changes. It’s a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith…It is the price of love.” ~Author Unknown~