Grief is like the ocean. The waves ebb and flow. Sometimes the water is calm. Other times it's turbulent. In order to survive, I have to learn to swim.
In moments when I struggle with massive waves of grief, I ride it out. When I'm sinking, God is like my life jacket who I cling to.
According to Wikipedia, "Grief is a multifaceted response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or something that has died, to which a bond or affection was formed."
There is no right or wrong way to experience grief. Everyone is different. There can be interruptions and delays, depending on how we cope.
In addition, we may bounce between denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. These five stages of grief are not necessarily in chronological order. There's no rhyme or reason for the length of time or order.
In addition to the recent death of my father, I've been experiencing anticipatory grief for my mother's imminent death. Three years ago, my mom was diagnosed with stage 3 brain cancer.
Her illness impacts every facet of my life. Both conventional grief and anticipatory grief does have a profound influence on me; physically, cognitively, and emotionally.
The hardest part about having a loved one’s health slowly diminish is that we feel their loss. The loss of their ability to drive. The loss of their participation in our lives.
The loss of their memory, due to an illness that damages the brain. The loss of their hobbies, such as gardening, reading, sewing, golfing, or painting. The loss of their independence. The loss of their physical, emotional, and cognitive health.
What no one told me is that my mom’s cancer journey will take me down dark valleys. Messy places where I've never traveled. To a pit of despair. To sleepless nights filled with worry.
To experience a dozen different emotional and physical symptoms. They range from sadness, anxiety, confusion, depression, anger, irritability, insomnia, fatigue, brain fog, hopelessness, and desperation.
For me, increased stress means a fibromyalgia flare up. Moments when my body hurts all over. When I’m numb. Days when I can't think straight.
Mornings when I wake up with such a heaviness. Painful times when I can't stop the tears from falling.
There’s countless other issues that I’ve wrestled with. Plenty of times when I don’t understand myself.
I can't explain way I respond a certain way or overreact. In stressful situations, I've found myself turning inward, retreating to my bedroom to be alone as I process my pain.
As I confront my grief, the darkness smothers me. It's lonely. Yet, it has me running into the arms of my Jesus. I think He's the only one who truly understands.
This reminds me of a quote by Fyodor Dostoevsky who penned these beautiful words. “The darker the night, the brighter the stars, the deeper the grief, the closer is God!”
For those struggling with anticipatory grief or conventional grief, there’s no timetable. It can last months, years, or longer.
There is no rush. Give yourself permission to take however long it may be to fully heal from your loss.
Grief hurts. It’s a natural part of our human experience. We each may face loss and grief more than once in our lifetime.
Yet, this is where God tenderly speaks to us. Where He pours out His love upon us. And where He grows our faith in the dark.
Today, if you are in the midst of grief and loss, please give yourself extra TLC. May you find comfort in these unexpected places along your journey.
“Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress; my eye is wasted from grief; my soul and my body also. For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away.” Psalm 31:9-10 (ESV)