My heart is with all of you who are walking through grief and struggling with pain during this time. Currently for me, it is 3 am Christmas morning. As I reflect on our journey this very early Christmas morning, then my heart and mind wander back to the early days of when I first started my own grieving. My husband died from a freak work accident in August 2011. He was instantly paralyzed from the chest down and spent 4 days in trauma ICU before dying in pre-op. 22 months later, my only son died instantly in a car accident at the age of 18. It is always difficult to put into words the pain and grief that I was walking through during this time. My two daughters and I have been traveling on our own grief journeys since those two core members of our family died. We are continuing to heal and learn as we take one step at a time.
As I think of each of you who may be struggling with grief and/or emotional pain then my heart is filled with so many thoughts and hopes for each of you. This last fall, I had the blessing of facilitating “GriefShare” at my church. Before the holidays began, we offered a special session called, “Surviving The Holidays”. These groups are designed to walk with those who are grieving. They share common struggles, what is “normal” in grief, and ideas for what may be helpful for those who are grieving. Because each of us grieve differently, then it is important in our grief to discover what is helpful and what is not helpful to each of us along our way. I would encourage you to check out GriefShare in your area. If you google GriefShare, then you will have an option on their site to search in your area and to see what is available for you regarding GriefShare.
It is common in grief and pain to feel as if we are alone and that no one is able to understand how we are feeling. Yes, it is true that each of our experiences are different. Yes, it is true that we all grieve differently. That is why it is crucial for each of us to discover what is comforting to us individually. Even though we all grieve differently and find comfort differently, it is still possible to find common ground and to help one another along the way. Additionally, as we express our true feelings and learn to become transparent in our own grief and pain, then it is also important for each of us to learn to compare and contrast our feelings with what is true in our lives.
For example, we may feel all alone. We always need to remember that just because we feel a certain way does not mean that it is true. I remember strongly battling this early on in my grief journey. I remember feeling so alone. I was struggling with questions that were not answerable. I did not understand why my husband was dead, and that I was left to journey without him. I did not understand why I was instantly a single mom when my kids were 16,14, and 11. I did not understand how my son could be instantly dead at the age of 18. I had prayed for him his whole life. These questions were unanswerable, and yet I was wrestling with them and in deep pain. I felt alone. I felt abandoned. I hurt in my heart more than I could have ever imagined possible.
And yet, was I alone? No, I was not. God was still there and loved me in my pain and grief. He understood my questions and loved me in them. He had not abandoned me. Additionally, I still had many people in my life who loved me and wanted to be there for me. Granted, it was difficult for them to know what to do for me… no one was capable of “fixing” my pain. This is an example of how my feelings had to be confronted by what was true. Yes, I felt those things; however, God had not abandoned me. Also, I still had many people in my life who loved me. I want each of us to learn to challenge what we feel with what is true. It is not an easy process, but it is so important in our healing. Please try to remember that even if you are feeling those things (alone, abandoned, forgotten) that each of us do have people in our lives who care about us even though they may have difficulty reaching out to us. People are so worried about saying the wrong thing or upsetting us that sometimes we have to be the ones to reach out. And most importantly, let us all try to remember that nothing can separate us from the love of God (Romans 8:38-39), and that He has promised to be with us and to strengthen and help us (Isaiah 41:10).
Many issues and feelings come to us while we are grieving and in pain. I want to encourage you to try to work on one at a time. In GriefShare, we talk about figuring out what is our one next thing to work on or step to take. I want to encourage you to figure out what yours is. What is your next step to take? Put some time and prayer into it. It is good for us all to know that we can take one step at a time, and that we do not have to have everything figured out or planned out.
Music is often something that is very comforting to me. The below song, “A Hard Year’s Christmas”, was sent to me by a dear friend and fellow mom who also had to bury her own son. Sometimes, we feel just as those words in the song describe: “holding our breath”, “dark ache”, etc. Sometimes in grief, we do not want to take a next step or do the next thing because we worry that we are leaving our loved one who has died behind. Sometimes, we worry that we are betraying them. Hopefully, in the midst of this pain and all of the feelings and thoughts that come with it, then we can remind ourselves of what our loved one who died would want for us. Would they want us to have peace and joy? I sure believe so. If we find peace and joy even in the midst of pain and grief, then have we left our loved one behind or betrayed them? I sure do not believe that is truth. I believe that those are some additional feelings that we can confront with truth.
It is my prayer for you at this time when your heart is hurting and that you may be experiencing pain that you are able to do as this song says and “lean in close and listen”… that you are able to find a “holy breath of hope”… that you may “give into wonder and into rest.”
Please join me in the midst of your pain to make the most of the time that we have left. It is my prayer that you will find comfort in God’s arms of love and that you may find peace, hope, and joy even in the midst of your pain and grief. May you know that you are not alone. May you know that you are truly loved. Let’s bring our loved ones with us and honor them as we make our days count. We never know how many days or Christmases that we have left. For those of us who have been or are currently on grief journeys, then we surely know how precious each moment is. Let’s make the most of it. Thanks so much for journeying with the girls and I. So much love and prayers to and for each of you.
Look to the children. Look how they love to believe. I wanna be like them, and I don’t see why I can’t be.
If ever a season can break our darkness with light, it’s the one where the weary rejoice on that silent night.
Hear angels carol on. They sing of peace and joy. Now let’s lean in close and listen. Just like that manger holds that live in breath of home. We all are heaven’s home to live in. Give into wonder and give into rest. We only have so many Christmases left. Mmh
Sing with the angels. Sing with the angels. Gloria, in excelsis Deo. We only have so many Christmases left.