Grief. Merriam Webster defines grief as a deep sadness caused especially by someone’s death. Deep and poignant distress caused by bereavement. Max Lucado, in his book Facing Your Giants states, “Bereavement comes from the word ‘reave’. Look up reave in the dictionary and you’ll read “to take away by force; plunder and rob.” Death robs you. The grave plunders moments and memories not yet shared: birthdays, vacations, milestones. You are bereaved because you’ve been robbed.”
Yep….that about sums it up. I am bereaved. I am grieving. I have been robbed. Katie has been robbed. Emilie has been robbed. Jacob has been robbed. A mother, a father, a sister, in-laws, nieces, nephews, aunts, uncles, cousins, friends…..all robbed. We are all grieving. We grieve in different ways and at different times, but we all grieve.
I’m certainly no expert in the field of grieving, nor do I ever want to be. But, the more I travel this path that’s been set before me, the more it seems to me that there are two faces to this thing called grief. One face that produces good in my life and one face that produces bitterness and ugliness in my life. One face that leads me to look more like Jesus and one face that leads me to look nothing like Him.
In one way, grief has made it difficult for me to sit still and quiet and spend time with the Lord. Because it’s in the quiet times that grief seems to hit me the hardest. But in another way, grief has shown me how desperate for Him I really am and how much I need to spend time with Him and in His Word.
Grief causes me to be sad and bitter about all the things that I no longer have and all the things that I will miss out on. All the things that I have been robbed of. But grief also causes me to be so thankful for all of the things that I have had. Grief causes me to remember how very blessed I have been.
At times, grief causes me to be self-centered and focused only on me and what I’m going through. But grief has also helped me to be more others-focused, realizing that everyone has hard things in their lives….I’m not the only one dealing with heartache and pain.
Grief brings with it feelings of incompetence, helplessness and a sense of being “unable”. But, it has also brought about a new-found sense of accomplishment as I learn to do things that I’ve never had to do before; and a reminder that He is my Helper.
One of the really ugly things that grief has brought out in me is anger and a sense of being judgemental towards couples who don’t seem to want to fight for their marriages. Couples who take one another for granted and don’t seem to care if their marriages thrive, just barely survive or even die. It makes me so angry that my marriage, my spouse was “robbed” from me, and they are willing to just let theirs go. I just want to shake these people and say “Can’t you see what you’re doing?? Wake up!!!” I told you it was ugly, and I’m not proud of these feelings, but I’m just being honest. But there is another face to this aspect of grief, as well. The Lord is teaching me that Yes, marriages are meant to last and they are meant to be modeled after Christ and the church, BUT….I have NO idea what these couples are going through. I have no right to judge these people, but should instead pray for them. To stand in the gap and fight (pray) on their behalf, and ask that their marriages would not only be saved but would also be marriages that would bring glory to God.
Grief has produced in me a longing to go “home” more than I’ve ever had before. I have a renewed interest in my Heavenly home and I have a desire to learn as much as I can about the place where Greg is now. But as much as I long to go home and look forward to that day, grief has also made me understand the importance of making each day that I have here on earth count. Each day is precious.
Grief has given me a more intense hatred for satan and the sin, sickness and death that he brought into this world. But because of the way my life has been touched by these things I have a greater compassion and desire to care for others that are going through these same things. I now know better how to pray, how to serve and how to be there for those that are going through what I’ve been through.
Grief brings with it a feeling that nothing else really matters now. Nothing has meaning. Life is without purpose. But through my grief I’m learning that there is a purpose for everything that the Lord allows into my life. I may not completely understand the exact purpose of me having to be a widow and a single Mom at the age of 48, and I certainly don’t like it, but even if I never know that purpose….one thing I DO know. My purpose is to live my life in a way that brings honor and glory to God and points others to Him. Many things in my life have and will change, but that purpose will never change.
Grief produces much worry and anxiety in my life. Who’s going to take care of me and the kids? How can I possibly be both Mom and Dad to my kids? How can I provide physically, financially and emotionally for a 21-year-old daughter, an 18-year-old daughter and a 15-year-old son. As a woman, how can I be what my son needs from a parent? How can I take care of this house and yard and do all the things that need to be done? But grief has also produced in my life a growing trust in my God. Through my grief I’ve been reminded over and over again how the Lord has cared for us, He has been good to us, He has provided for us. Grief has caused me to daily claim the Lord’s promise that He will be a Father to the fatherless and a protector and defender of the widow. My confidence for my future is based on what God has done in my past.
Grief brings with it indescribable sadness. It’s a sadness that you just can’t explain to anyone else. It’s a sadness that is overwhelming, suffocating and exhausting. It’s a sadness that can suck the life out of you. It’s a sadness that when it hits, you just can’t seem to get out from under it. But grief also brings times of indescribable peace. It is the peace that passes ALL understanding. I never knew what that really meant until now. It’s a peace that I’ve never experienced in all my life. Many days I stand in awe at the peace the Lord has provided for me. It’s a peace that doesn’t make sense. It’s a peace that could come from nowhere or no one other than a good and loving God. It’s a peace that is so overwhelming that sometimes I find myself thinking, “how in the world can I feel this way in the midst of what I’m going through?” Sometimes I think, “Am I living in denial?” But what’s to deny? Greg’s not here, how can you deny that? It’s not denial, it’s just God’s indescribable peace in the midst of indescribable sadness. How they can coexist, I have no idea. Actually I do….only God!
Grief causes me to live some days in self-pity. So many “whys” and no real answers can lead me straight into a big ol’ pity party. And, I go there too often and stay there for far too long. But grief has also helped me to realize how abundantly blessed I am. Reminders of how He loves me, cares for me, and puts others in my life to help me bear this burden. And all the unanswered “whys” just teach me trust Him more. To put faith to the words that I have so often thoughtlessly spouted out….everything that happens to me is for my good and His glory. Do I really believe that?? Grief puts me in a position to live out what I say I believe.
Grief has a way of making you feel lost and alone. But grief has also helped prove to me that I am never really alone. The Lord is always with me and He is kind enough to send me little reminders of this every day in so many different ways.
Grief brings with it sadness and tears that catch me off-guard and seem to come out of nowhere. But grief also brings times where I am surprised by joy. Glimpses of joy, laughter, happiness that also seem to come out of nowhere.
Grief often takes me to the point of wanting to give up, like I just can’t and don’t even want to make it through another day. I find it hard to take the next step, the next breath even. But grief also reminds me of Greg’s words to me and the kids after he was first diagnosed with melanoma. “I don’t like this. I don’t want this. I wouldn’t choose this for me, or my wife or my kids. I don’t get to choose what happens to me. But….I DO get to choose how I will respond to what has happened to me.” And grief reminds me that I am in that same place again. I don’t like this path. I don’t want it. I certainly didn’t choose it; to be a widow and a single mother. But…I DO get to choose how I will respond to what has happened to me. Grief reminds me that the decision is mine.
Grief tells me that since Greg is gone, I am only half the person that I was before. When we married, Greg and I became one, but now he’s gone and I am incomplete. I am no longer whole. But through this grief, the Lord has shown me over and over that He makes me whole. He is my Completer. He is all I need. He is more than enough!
Grief is hard. Grief is not pretty. Grief is a part of this life. But just like anything else, we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose. Even grief.
So, once again I am faced with a choice. Will I choose to allow this grief to make me more like Jesus, or will I choose to allow it to rob me of even more than it already has? Unfortunately, it’s not a one-time choice. It’s a choice that I have to make many times a day. I pray that as time goes on, I’ll find myself making the right choice more times than I do the wrong choice.
Weeping may last for a night (I think it’s going to be a really long night), but Praise God, joy comes in the morning!!
Trusting His Plan,