There is no need to figure out grief. There is no need to try to remain strong or pretend to be okay. You can and most likely will fall apart in times of sorrow. But, the promise God gives us is that when we seek Him, He covers us with a strength that is not our own. We can continue to put one foot in front of the other because of His grace and faithfulness.
"A virtuous woman, who could find? For her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband trusts her, and she works diligently to provide for her family. She has an inner strength and stays humble. She serves others and is faithful to the Lord."
This is the image of the Proverbs 31 woman, and this - was my mother. She lived her faith beautifully. She was noble and kind. Gentle, yet loved ever so fiercely. A woman full of grace and poise. In times of need, she was there. In times of hurt, she comforted. In times of celebration, she radiated the room with her laughter and tears of joy.
I never imagined I would be writing an article about mourning my mother, but as I’ve experienced plagues of pain associated with this grief, I have also been given a sense of peace that, quite honestly, on the surface, doesn’t make any sense.
April 21, 2022 will be a day that will continuously replay in my mind and heart. It goes down as a day forever marked as bittersweet. My daughter turned thirteen on that day. She went to school just like any other teenager, but it wasn’t her usual birthday celebration. There were no pancakes or balloons waiting for her in the kitchen. There was no big birthday hug where she would be left pulling away, awkwardly saying, “Mooom” with the typical eye roll. And, there was no call from her favorite person- Mimi. Instead, she got a phone call from the hospital. My dad, sister, and I fought back tears, trying to hold it together as we sang, “Happy Birthday.”
The day before, my mom, sister, and I were laughing over lunch. Talking about how I was about to have another teenager. My mom was smiling as we shared stories, and she offered encouragement to me. In that moment, I was so grateful. My mom was my constant source of wisdom in a season that is often full of chaos.
Little did we know that moments later we’d end up at a hospital only to have a few hours before my mom was placed on life support. It happened so quickly that we didn’t even have time to absorb what was happening. My mom had a stroke which led to a massive bleed on her brain. Doctors gave us the grim diagnosis as we sat there in disbelief.
I still remember calling my husband to tell him he needed to bring our daughters and to hurry, yet it felt like an out-of-body experience. Trying to prepare my girls for what they were about to see when they just saw their grandmother laughing at Easter was heartbreaking. Yet, I could have sworn I felt my mom’s hand squeeze my fingers when she heard the sound of their voices. (God’s way of preparing my heart for what was to come)
My dad, sister, and I got the blessing of surrounding my mom the entire night. The nurses managed to keep her body stabilized until she couldn’t fight anymore. At 12:08 pm the following day, we walked away from my mom’s hospital bed and down the eerily quiet halls of the ICU. It was as if I was walking in a fog – stumbling into the unknown. My life was now different. It was a life without her in it.
An hour after leaving that hospital, I found myself at a grocery store buying balloons and flowers for my daughter’s birthday. It all felt like such a blur. I remember texting all my daughter’s friends, telling them to love on her because not only was it her birthday, but it was also the day she lost her beloved Mimi.
Mourning a Mother is a Personal Journey
I share this story with you because mourning my mother has been a journey that has offered heartbreak and healing. It’s felt like living in survival mode while being bound by grace. It’s triggered pain with joy. It’s brought on tinges of guilt but glimmers of hope.
I’ve forced a smile to hold back tears. I’ve tried to be strong for my girls so they could fall apart. I’ve had to push down the bitterness of my mom’s death coinciding with my daughter’s birthday. I’ve had to be faced with the reality that I am now a mother without my mother. And my daughters have no grandmother. It’s led to a slew of mixed emotions. Yet, my wounded heart strives to seek grace. His grace. Every single day.
Many days it feels like all too much to carry. And that’s because it is—on my own.
God’s Grace is Sufficient
As the meal trains stopped, the texts slowed down, and the lingering hugs became somewhat awkward conversations, I was reminded that as much as others can offer their sincere condolences, nobody provides us the comfort we truly need like our God.
When people begin to move on and keep living, that’s usually when the deep-seeded grief bubbles up. Fortunately, that is also when God meets us. Calling us ever so gently to draw nearer to Him.
There is no need to face grief alone. No need to be enough, for God’s grace is made perfect in our weakness. (2 Corinthians 12:9)
God Can and Will Allow Joy to Coexist with Suffering
Joy comes in little pockets tucked within grief. It may be found through a hug from a friend, an unbeknownst prayer from a church member that brings unexplainable peace, or getting still and quiet with the Lord to be reminded of Who He is (Psalm 46:10). These moments of joy bring hope and offer comfort, allowing us to be thankful and even rejoice in the pain.
Romans 5:1-5 shares with us that we can have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Not only that, but we can also find glory in our suffering because it produces perseverance and character and gives us hope. It continues by saying that God’s love for us has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit.
As believers, we have the assurance that God is with us during times of distress. He is molding, shaping, and growing us through our pain while giving us hope found in Christ. That hope should lead us to rejoice in our suffering, knowing while this world is ruled by death, we will spend eternity with Him.
God Delights in Us, Especially in Our Pain
If you comb through Scripture, you’ll easily find how much God delights in you (Psalm 37:23, Ephesians 2:4, 1 Peter 5:7). God speaks of His great and infinite love for us throughout His Word and places it in our hearts when we spend time with Him. When we get to the nature of God and understand His heart, we learn that God is love, and He longs for His people to receive the gift of salvation (John 3:16).
God does not delight in our suffering; He delights in us. God knows our pain. He sees, hears, and feels it. His compassion compares to no other and proves time and time again that He will be with us in the middle of our trials. (1 Peter 5:10, Romans 8:18)
We should take heart and know that while others will fail us, our God never ever will.
God Will Give You Strength to Face Each Day
"Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always." 1 Chronicles 16:11
This verse is so comforting. There is no need to figure out grief. There is no need to try to remain strong or pretend to be okay. You can and most likely will fall apart in times of sorrow. But, the promise God gives us is that when we seek Him, He covers us with a strength that is not our own. We can continue to put one foot in front of the other because of His grace and faithfulness.
These days have been hard. Really hard. But I have seen God’s hand in the midst of my grief, and I rejoice in that. I am also ever so thankful God gave me such an amazing mother. She left behind such a beautiful legacy. One I strive to live out and instill in my daughters.
And, until I am reunited with her, I have faith that my God will sustain me. He will sustain you, too, my friend. May we both find comfort in His Word, presence, and promises and delight in His goodness.
"The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him." Psalm 28:7
Photo Credit: ©GettyImages/ Erica Shires
Alicia Searl is a devotional author, blogger, and speaker that is passionate about pouring out her heart and pointing ladies of all ages back to Jesus. She has an education background and master’s in literacy. Her favorite people call her Mom, which is why much of her time is spent cheering them on at a softball game or dance class. She is married to her heartthrob (a tall, spiky-haired blond) who can whip up a mean latte. She sips that goodness while writing her heart on a page while her puppy licks her feet. Visit her website at aliciasearl.com and connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.