Grief Notes

I'd never really stopped and added it all up before.  But in the last month as I began to switch gears to plan for Sunday's Grief Group, it hit me.  

I lost eight loved ones in eight years.

My Dad, my Mom; my grandson, Tyler.  My niece, Jessica; my cousin, Carol.  Lifelong friend, Heather.  And my partners in ministry for many years, Bob and Brent.

As you read about these people, you'll get a glimpse of lessons on mourning I gathered along the way.

Lament matters.

It hit me that saying goodbye to any one of these loved ones would have been cause for deep grief.  But looking back, I now realize that having their traumatic deaths cascade one after the other allowed me to experience grace toward myself in the immensity of it all.

'No wonder you were so filled with anxiety.  You couldn't even catch your breath before the next loss rolled around.' 

It all made sense.  In reflecting, I understand that God's unchanging, steadying presence has truly been my salvation against totally going under.  Refusing to stuff the shock and pain was a lifeline.  I found the Psalms to be my prayer book.  Simply whispering Jesus brought calmness to my undone mind and body.  

We moved to the back row on Sunday mornings.

There was incredible healing in blogging and the faithful, empathetic support you gave.  Steadily bringing up beloved names at the dinner table kept those who left very much present.  Reaching out to others in their need rescued me from total self-absorption.  

And praise God for those few souls who quietly, patiently listened to me process again and again without trying to tie everything up with a little pink bow.  

These were priceless treasures in darkness.


Grieving well nudges us to slowly take baby steps forward, one hour at a time.  To our surprise, we find ourselves looking in the rearview mirror a bit less.  Our hearts become tenderized and we discover gratitude again ... or maybe it finds us.  

Our world view slowly enlarges.  We begin to re-emerge, re-made by what we have experienced.  What we value will most likely change and what we deem important dramatically shift.  New priorities may catch us by surprise, the opportunities given to us may be unexpected yet welcome.

If we find ourselves unable or unwilling to move ahead as the years flow on, our lives are tragically cut short.  We miss out on the beauty of God's daily good gifts and our inner absorption keeps us from seeing opportunities to reach out to those who find themselves in even more dire straits than we've experienced.  Apathy, cynicism, and bitterness far too easily seep in to fill the aching void.    

Accepting that we'll never be totally whole until we reach heaven invites us to take the pressure off ourselves to try to accomplish that goal while here on earth.  In the process of mending and being renewed, we honor the legacy of those we've mourned so deeply.  And wonder of wonders, He 'restores the years the locusts have eaten' (Joel 2:25-26).  

We become wounded healers.  

There's no need to sit in the back row anymore.

12/2023 Update
Please come and visit me at Grace & Space, my new online home-sweet-home.  I'd love to show you around.  I think you'll like it there.

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