As we enter into what would have been the birth month of our third baby, due date July 30, there have been a few things laid on my heart to share regarding living with grief.
The best way for me to describe grief would be in terms of a fog. Fog can be debilitating and cause you to stop in your tracks, it can be distracting or disorienting in the sense that you no longer see the lines that typically guide your path, and it can be dense enough to block out everything around you so all you can do is just focus on where you are at right in that moment and take one step at a time to proceed to your destination.
Grief works the same way. Throughout the last few months I have experienced all of the above and the key has been to simply keep taking the next step. The tricky part about grief is that it sneaks up on you in the most unexpected moments.
Please hear me when I say that grief and joy are not directly correlated. It is possible to still be joyful and yet have grief be a very real and present emotion in your life. Proverbs 14:13 says that "Laughter can conceal a heavy heart, but when the laughter ends, the grief remains." Additionally, grief and gratitude are also not directly correlated. In what I consider to be one of the most powerful chapters of the Bible, Job, Job 1:20 states "Job stood up and tore his robe in grief. Then he shaved his head and fell to the ground to worship." This imagery hits directly into my soul. The most powerful thing I've been able to do during this process is worship despite my grief because that is where the Lord meets me and brings me joy.
For anyone who has lost someone, the fact that they are grieving does not negate their gratitude and appreciation for the loved ones that remain here. While there is comfort drawn from those loved ones - it does not take away the pain of the loss they have experienced. I write that because there have been many moments when friends or family note how blessed I am to still have my sons and yes - I am extremely blessed to have them, however, it doesn't mean I didn't still love and long for that third child. As Jeremiah 10:19 states, "My wound is severe, and my grief is great. My sickness is incurable, but I must bear it." Grief is not curable, however, it does change, it does become more manageable but its not going to be according to any personal timeline. It just takes time.
While my loss appears differently than the loss of others, these are lessons within the grieving process that I feel are applicable and unless spoken they will not be understood or recognized by those who have never been in the trenches of grief.
Finally, I know that it is uncomfortable to ask people about their loss because you are afraid of stirring up some negative emotions or sadness but can I ask you to do something? Don't be so afraid of someone's tears that you aren't willing to see their heart. Yes, it can be uncomfortable to see people cry but when people who have lost someone don't feel that they have the ability to be vulnerable or honest about their emotions, it can be an incredibly lonely feeling. While I appreciate the fact that you care enough not to hurt them - can you care enough to be willing to help them bear their hurt? For many people, being able to talk about the one they lost brings healing. It may not be in a way that you understand but sometimes the most meaningful thing you can do is to willingly bring it up, talk about it, and ask questions. If they don't want to talk about it I can bet they will tell you that and ask for grace in giving them their space. I know that even if I am not in a place to talk, I do appreciate the effort made. While no one else on this side of heaven got to know my baby the way I did - it doesn't mean that it didn't effect me.
God has been faithful to redeem the heartache of my loss one step at a time and I can genuinely say that I am in a good place with a peace that surpasses my understanding. I know Jesus in ways that I never knew him before and I am continually learning the strength that is found in weakness, loss, and vulnerability. Today I challenge you - have the tough conversation and ask the hard questions, your temporary discomfort is nothing compared to the lifetime of grief that person will experience. Move forward with a Holy Confidence that there is healing in the hard and wisdom drawn from hurt.
Thanks for your time.