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To be honest, I don't like the word grief. It seems so…painful. And it seems to attach itself like glue, on too many lives, all too often. "Grieving" implies suffering, through a deep loss, feelings of extreme sadness over time. It's not just having a few bad days. And it comes in many forms. For some, it comes hand in hand with the loss of a loved one. Others find themselves on this journey after a miscarriage, divorce, deep betrayal in a relationship, the reality of a hard diagnosis, or through places such as serious illness, infertility, or tragic events. In whatever way grief originates, it holds one thing in common. There is deep, painful loss. And who you once were, will no longer be the same. There is an eventual letting go that happens - of a person, of a relationship, of a dream, of what was once "normal" for you in life. It indeed is life changing.
I became acquainted with the clutches of grief through the first few years of a walk through infertility. We walked that path longer than we wanted, it often seemed more like a crawl, and became slower than we ever dreamed we’d have to endure. 7 years. Of many tears. And lonely suffering of the heart. I desperately wanted off that path rooted with potholes and weeds. I stumbled often, and sometimes lost steam, but pressed on, slowly. And finally stepped out - on the other side. Changed.
But I will never forget. I remember still. How slow it all seemed.
When opportunity arises and I find myself sitting beside another friend who is grieving, it somehow becomes all vivid again. Real. Raw. Familiar crushing hurt, tied tightly to a hope that won’t let go. His hope holds on. It never lets go. I sit quietly, still, prayerful. I understand. Though the hurt may look different, I know what it is. Maybe you know of that same familiar pain. Hands held tight when deep loss overwhelms, intense blow to the spirit who trusted, now left empty of dreams.
Sometimes the process is slow. Brutally slow. It takes time. And more time. More time often, than others are even comfortable with. And you find there's a constant, deep searing pain that doesn’t go away with nice words uttered by friends and a new day dawning. You feel lost and alone, fully aware that it's hard for those on the outskirts of the journey to fully "get it," or understand what you're processing.
Here's truth in it all. You're not alone. Ever. He whispers this to you today, as He holds your hand and dries your tears, never weary in sitting with you, close, "My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest." Exodus 33:14
However "slow" it feels, we will go on, and He is with us. Giver of rest. Covering us with the peace of His presence.
There's no real timetable for grieving because it looks different for so many people. Don’t ever let someone make you feel like you have to hurry through it all and just be OK again. You may never be the same again. Because true grieving changes us from the inside out. It makes all of life look different from that point forward. The old has become new. And some who were used to the “old” us, may not particularly like the “new” us, so desperate to heal, but still not able to see straight.
He doesn't hurry you through. He is not weary of listening to you or drying tears. Because He, the Healer, knows how tender the wounds are, and the time it takes for the steps towards true healing to occur. It will come. And though we may be forever changed, different, looking at the world through a new set of lenses, we will carry on, destined to live out the purposes He has ahead for us.
You see, there's still life to be lived. A new life. And He promises to make things new.
If you find yourself rubbing shoulders with another soul who is silently trying to heal right now, choose love, choose patience. Let go of the need to try to “make it all OK.” Let go of the judgments or the critical eye as you watch another grieve, because the process may not look exactly like yours. Be OK with silence. Be OK with not having the right words, because often your presence is much more powerful anyway. Maybe just sitting quietly, not in a hurry, and saying, “I’m so very sorry for your loss, I am here,” is all we need to utter. Because I think that’s really what Jesus would do.
You are loved my friend. Deeply. If you find yourself on this journey, press on, taking one slow step at a time. There is hope. Still. There is life on the other side of grief.
"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." Psalm 34:18
Debbie McDaniel is a pastor's wife, mom to three amazing kids and a few too many pets, dramatist and writer. She has a heart to communicate God's hope though the everyday moments of life - the good, the bad, the ugly, and the ones that take your breath away. A lover of every sunrise, forever needy of His grace, this Texas girl finds joy in the simple gift of each new day. Debbie invites you to join her at www.freshdayahead.com, and Facebook and Twitter.