Today marks a year since my unavoidable encounter with grief. This time last year I had nearly choked on my greek salad because of a throbbing ball of emotion creeping up my throat. If you missed it, you can check it out here.
As many of you know, a lot has changed this past year. We have had a global pandemic and a historical winter storm in Texas. We have had mandatory masks and months of working from home. Life certainly does not look like it did a year ago. Personally, it marks the day when I was introduced to a petite, young woman by the name of Julie, who kindly gave me a book called GriefShare. This 365-day devotional is comprised of different aspects of grief along with testimonies, scriptures and closing prayers.
When my world was rocked back in the summer 2019, the last thing I wanted was a large, clunky book to carry around. But I'm glad I did because this book contained the very things I needed most. This bulky paperback led me through a roller coaster of emotions. Whether it was to lament, process, love, forgive, reminisce, ponder, regret, cry or laugh. Sometimes all of those emotions in the same day. Eventually, I began seeing progress. The vulnerability walls I built up began tumbling down.
Growth began to emerge.
In March 2020, I was oblivious of the real definition of grief. Sure, we all know grief is a deep sorrow when we lose someone we care for but it is so much more. What people don't tell you is how awkward it is to be around someone who has recently lost someone dear to them. Some people clam up or say unconsciously painful things. Some people show up and sit down, just let you cry. Others disappear because they cannot handle your pain. Unfortunately since no one tells you these things, the people who did not show up for the funeral hurt your feelings and the people who did, now have an extraordinarily special place in your heart. Why? Because you finally realize they did not come for a woman they never knew, they came for you.
Over this past year, growth took on many different forms. Whether it was forgiving others who did not show up in your time of need or hugging those who did. Growth in grief now feels like empathy instead of sympathy. This growth can slow you down, quieten your heart and create a compassion you have not ever encountered.
Personally, this growth in the grieving process opened up my eyes to the lack of communication about taboo conversations within the church. Subjects along the line with grief are addictions, infertility, pornography, miscarriages and homosexuality. Even to this day my question goes unanswered, why don't we talk about these delicate subjects in church?
When we are faced with some of these life-alternating situations and they are not addressed, shame, doubt, and confusion can come creeping in. Fear, depression, suicidal thoughts and eating disorders can rear their ugly heads. But I'm confident many of these things can be avoided if we would communicate effectively about grief.
When we are faced head-on with grief, sometimes we can feel alone, judged even shameful for the emotions we have. I'm here to tell you, we do not have to be bound to what society says we should do and feel when we have lost somebody we love.
Feelings of regret are okay. Feelings of remorse are okay. Crying is okay. Remember, our Christian faith is not lacking when we lament.
Everyone experiences grief differently.
Whether it is a beautiful mother who was your biggest cheerleader, an unborn child, your best running dog or your lifelong spouse. Do not let anyone contradict your feelings of grief. Your feelings are real and are not meant to be bottled up.
You do not have to do this alone. We’re not meant to.
Excerpt from GriefShare:
Run to God
Your recovery from grief is likely not complete, but we pray that you are encouraged to grow forward on your journey. We wish God’s best for you.
“The greatest and deepest Christians I’ve ever met are not the ones with the advanced degrees and not the ones who are always happy and cheerful, but they are people who have found God to be faithful in the worst moments of life,” says Dr. Ray Pritchard. “Instead of running away from God, they ran toward Him. And they know things about God that the rest of us haven’t yet experienced.”
Run to God, and praise His name.
“But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings. And you will go out and leap like calves released from the stall” (Malachi 4:2).
Lord, when I have truly surrendered to You, I will be free. Amen.