Friday, March 21, 2014

The truth about grief

My daughter cried herself to sleep the other night. A white mountain of crumpled tissues lay on the floor beside her bed like the piles of snow outside; evidence of the blizzard of emotions that swirled relentlessly all evening long. I know the pain she feels, but I can't relieve it. I know the fight ahead of her, but I can't fight it for her. I know what she needs to believe, but I can't make her believe it.

I can, however, lift her up in prayer to the Only One who knows her heart, her pain, and her sorrow. I can validate her pain. I can comfort without words, platitudes, expectations, or lectures. I can love her unconditionally.

Grief from the death of her brother is an experience that she will revisit more than once throughout her life. I wish it wasn't so. But it is a fact. Children grieve differently than adults in that their grief comes in bits and pieces, in spurts. As their brains develop and they grow in wisdom and understanding, new layers of grief will be exposed. I trust that this is the way God has ordained it. After all, it only makes sense. They're children and, as children, they don't have the capability to handle or understand grief like an adult because they're not adults. It is a good thing, really, else they would not survive such a blow. God made their grief to occur in spurts for their protection.

As a parent, I'd give anything if I could take this away from her, but I can't. It's another layer of grief for me as I watch my daughter struggle with her own grief. It is a horrible helpless feeling. I am, however, deeply thankful for GriefShare. The videos reiterate the truth of God's word and reinforce what healthy grieving looks like.

Lesson ten from GriefShare last Monday night was a good one, though it spoke some hard truths. Speaker Paul David Tripp spoke of two lies that we tend to believe when faced with the death of a loved one. The first one is that something has been taken from you that you can't live without. The second is that there's no way out of what I'm experiencing. Wow. Hard, right? What parent wants to believe that? Our hearts scream that it just can't be true, and our minds can't fathom how. But he also went on, clarifying the first lie by the reassurance that your loved one who died is precious, but not essential to you living. He cautioned against believing the lie that God would take something essential from you. Second, though you can't change the circumstance, you can be different in the circumstance. As I've blogged about before, it's the difference between Job's answer ("Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him...") and his wife's answer ("Curse God and die!"). Our situation doesn't change; our loved ones remain gone. But we are comforted and filled with hope. We experience God's grace, strength, and peace.

I continue to hurt for my daughter, but ultimately, I know that she, like all those who grieve, must trust God with her loss. The truth about grief is harsh. None of us are exempt from the troubles of this world. (John 16:33) But the truth about God is this: He loves us with an everlasting love. (Jeremiah 31)

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