GRIEF is a real thing, and not something I would have chosen to walk through, but when my husband died it was the only path to healing at a soul level. I don’t cry. I’ve always thought there was something wrong with me. Cold, unfeeling, and not much release for emotional pain. Then the flood. My unrelenting emptiness, deep guttural sobbing, and walking in a daze questioning “what’s next?” The numbness and staring off into space, with water still pouring from my eyes, just with no sound or movement. I wasn’t able to catch my breath. Questions and an opportunity for fear flooded my mind, while realizing there would be no more memories together…as us:
- Am I going to make it through this?
- How do I put one foot in front of the other to go on?
- What do I grab on to?
- Where do I find joy?
- How do I make decisions?
- How do I help my grown children when I feel too weak to walk through this myself?
I thought about all the weddings, grandbabies, and retirement we were supposed to plan and enjoy together. I can’t fall apart but I’m going to. Do I really have to do this by myself?! I can’t feel him, touch him, laugh with him, or get mad at him and make up. His sense of humor, kindness, and generosity of spirit, are all gone. When the time came to celebrate him with all the wonderful supporters, I smiled and thanked them for coming. But I just wanted him there with me, and I didn’t want to accept this. I wanted the fullness of him to still be there. There was so much more to express and to feel sorrow about, but It was too much and I had to stop. I didn’t know how to do that, but God knew.
THEN: Those feelings were over 6 years ago. If you’re wondering what happened between then and now, this is a story of WORSHIP. Worship of my God, my King, my Savior, on my knees through the sobbing. I acknowledged out loud His character as all knowing, all powerful, and everywhere at once. I shared my sorrow and fears with Him and sang praises to him with worship songs I knew and also words that just came from my heart. I did that every time overwhelming sorrow grabbed ahold of me. In that worship, he lifted me, gave me hope, mercy, and established me in a relationship with Him that I had never known before. God took the place of my husband and helped me know how special I am to Him. He spoke to me in life giving ways and established my footsteps. (Isaiah 54:5-7, Psalm 37:23, 24)
NOW: everything about Him is more pronounced than ever, as though all His attributes are magnified just for my benefit. Gratitude is at my core, and I’m in awe and wonder at His care for me. He has never left me nor forsaken me. I’m learning with great certainty what the word ”trust” truly means, looking up scriptures about trust in God. (Ps 9:10). He’s teaching me His wisdom with great generosity. He’s gentle and kind, giving me assurance that I’m walking In His love without trying to earn it. It’s so peaceful… you might even say a very light burden. I can look forward to not only the kingdom He has promised, but to serving Him here and now. Yes, Kingdom down living. It all began with WORSHIP, on my knees, bowed before God in posture and spirit. No matter what feelings I was feeling, how deep I might be sobbing, or what my uncertainty was at any given time, I worshiped anyway. It was ugly, noisy, and not filled with grammatical expertise. I just worshiped through my pain. It’s a way of life now to express my deep longings to Him, mostly my desire to be spiritually intimate with Him. I find He is most happy to accommodate and confirms regularly His faithful care of the details. It’s the life I could not imagine having, inviting me into the daily wonder of His awesomeness. I believe I’m better than OK now, waiting for His return, and serving Him until then.
Everyone’s grief process is different, but if we don’t grieve, we can’t heal. If any of this sounds like where you are or what you are going through, I would encourage you to express the honesty of your heart before the Lord. Lay your sorrow at His feet as often as you need to. Dig deep into relationship with Him. Trust that He cares for you and is with you through this. “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.” (Psalm 56:8 NLT)
I was also comforted by this: “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Rom. 8:18) God’s glory and presence when I see Him some day are worth whatever pain and sorrow I experience on earth.