There is absolutely nothing about living through grief that is enjoyable. Living in grief feels like trudging through molasses, everything feels heavy and life moves in slow motion. I’m no stranger to living through events with unknown details, constantly reshuffled plans and a what feels like a roulette of outcomes. Maybe you’ve been there before too? Nothing is familiar. It’s maddening, isn’t it? What was once a sense of security now feels like a ghost haunting you about what may never be again. The rollercoaster of emotions can feel much like a boxing match, absorbing blow after blow until you start to become unconscious to it all.
Our world is in a state of grieving right now. School, work and church are happening online, at home. Social calendars have been cleared. Jobs in jeopardy, relationships strained, finances stretched. Our routines and schedules have been stripped and nothing feels familiar. We feel the weight of it all, don’t we? It’s hard. Really, really hard.
I’m the farthest from an expert on grief, but I have been in the ring with it. From the little that I know and all that I’ve done wrong, I want my mistakes to be a lesson to you. I want to encourage you as best I can in this season.
Sit With It
We’ve all been gifted time in this season of grieving. In most cases, the world doesn’t slow down when our life comes undone. But right now we have the unique luxury of time to sit with our ‘stuff’ and make nice with it. I know it won’t feel friendly at first, in fact quite the opposite. Silence speaks loudly and usually involves tear soaked cheeks. But my friend, that is the way through.
You can only experience something to the level that you’ve experienced yourself. That means if we want a life full of depth and rich with adventure, we have to dig in and do hard things. We have to heal the tender spaces and hold the broken pieces. I rarely had words as I sat with in my grief, but God always met me there and saw me through. Even if it doesn’t feel like it, trust that God is in it with you and waiting for you on the other side of it. He will see you through. The work is hard but you’re never, ever alone in it.
Perhaps you’re feeling the ping of under appreciation now as you travel through grief and unknown circumstances. As routines are shuffled and our environments shrunk, we certainly feel the loss of what once was. The convenience of the bus taking my kids to and from school each day. Dinner and game nights with my extending family. The teachers who are vested in my children’s education and expanding their knowledge daily. The weekly meal shared with my small group from church as we shoulder each others burdens and join in their victories. The quiet coffee shop, the happy hour drinks and the camaraderie at the gym.
There’s nothing comparable to the aches that grief leaves you with. One of the aches? The ache of under appreciation. It doesn’t sting like regret but it can only be fully realized after loss. I wish I had appreciated things more completely when I could hold them in my hands and look him in the eyes. The thing is, I honestly thought I did. But how could you fully appreciate all the ways that mean so much until the ways that meant so much are gone? It often takes the absence of something to realize how many ways we over looked it in the first place.
I always feared losing my husband. He was so much a part of me I couldn’t imagine what life would be like without him. He was a huge sense of security for me, like you’d find in any deep rooted relationship. He was a grounding point, a constant. I couldn’t imagine my life without him because I built my whole life around him. Yet one of the strangest things was uprooted through my grief in losing him. It was freedom.
When your worst fears are realized you would think the pain would be unbearable. And there were times that it was. But once the season of sitting in grief passed, I was greeted by a lightness, joy even. It was unexpected and caught me by surprise. When you’ve been drowning for so long and you’re finally able to undo the weights at your feet, something shifts. When you reach the the surface, gasping for air you’ve never been more thankful for things as simple as the salty air. There’s a lightness that takes over your body once the weight is released. The welcomed second chance at life breeds freedom and a sense of duty and responsibility in the most beautiful of ways.
There’s a major transformation and refinement that happens through extenuating circumstances. The metamorphosis brings about a beautiful creature eager to experience life as a new creation. It is grit that’s built though the process that births way to freedom. What you once thought unsurvivable becomes the channel you thrive through. It’s incredibly empowering.
What happens when your worst fears are realized? When your safety net is gone and there’s nowhere to hide? What does it look like when your anxieties become your reality?
You carry on. You stand back up and go again. Because you are strong, capable and resilient. Each day you give your very best and give yourself grace for all the rest. You’re making your way through, trusting a God who’s never left you. You’re consuming a God who’s strength never runs out. You’re leaning into a God asking to take your heavy and exchange it for freedom. When grief steps, in familiar steps out. But that leaves space for new stories to be written, new traits to develop and new freedom to be walked out.