The world has entered into a season of profound grief. It is most likely a season of common grief that is shared around the world. Quarantined inside the four walls of apartments and homes, isolated from loved ones and physical touch. Jobs have been lost. Homes have been lost. Income has been lost. Relationships have been lost. There is food insecurity and housing insecurity that results in the new homeless. All are common events around the globe.
But, the most overwhelming loss, the most devastating loss, is the death of loved ones, some, too soon, others, too young, mothers and fathers and sisters and brothers, sons and daughters, friends and partners. All are losses that fiercely deposit grief into our hearts.
It is interesting to me that death always seems like a thing that never happens until it happens to someone we know or someone we love. Death is not embraced as a part of life so when it does take up residence in our living rooms, we are so surprised that it would dare cross our thresholds. As such, too many of us are not prepared for the grief that follows to demand absolute control of our thoughts.
Moment by moment, we are drawn into the shadows of life with only “Why” as our companion.
Those individuals who express a faith in God may turn to Him with their “Why,” but are often to broken unable to quietly process His response through their grief and the anger that they even have to ask the question.
What do we do when grief takes up residence in our hearts? Here’s what grief experience has taught me:
- Breathe intentionally, even if you have to set an alarm to remind yourself to take deep breaths
- Do your best to center yourself in the moment, heart wrenching though it may be
- Accept the depth of the pain but try your best not to wrap yourself in it
- Sort through the memories, literally/figuratively, welcome the laughter and the tears
- When the broken moments/meltdowns come, go with the moments then come up for air
- When you feel like retreating from the crowd, retreat without explanation or apology
- When you need help, seek help, either a good friend or a professional counselor
- Don’t feel compelled to explain your pain/tears/silence
- There is no need to take care of everything in those early days; handle what needs to be handled now; leave the rest for later
Zig Ziglar, the Master Salesman and motivational speaker, wrote that grief is not only unavoidable, but desirable because it “brings us to the point of realizing the vastness of our love,” and it “puts us in a position to trust God alone for our restoration, that it “is perhaps the most profound way of expressing love; the more we love a person we have lost, the greater our grief.”
This is not a truth any of us would want to embrace but it is definitely understood by every broken heart.
In the beginning, the grief that takes up residence in our hearts is cold and hard, slow to dissolve, but as the moments roll on, memories begin to warm our souls that eventually begin to melt the cold lump in our hearts.
I have read in the Bible that God captures our tears in a bottle. The context may be one of acknowledging our pain but I find it somewhat comforting to think that God cares enough about me to keep track of my sorrow. While most people are embarrassed by or turn away from my tears, God captures them.
One final word: Give yourself the grace to grieve. When people ask, “How are you doing?” tell them how you are doing. They may not understand. They may not be able to fix anything but you will have given them the opportunity to step into your grief with you. That is the definition of compassion (your heartbreak becomes their heartbreak; your suffering becomes their suffering).
I am grateful that He is the God of Comfort, especially when grief takes up residence in my heart.