Thursday, April 16, 2015
Shortly after our son Matt died, we attended GriefShare. One of the most powerful statements I heard at GriefShare was "lean into your grief." Only by leaning into it are we able to get through it. Earl Grollman says, "The only cure for grief is to grieve." I've met enough grief companions along the way to recognize the "healthy" ones are the ones who leaned into their grief, burning it as fuel for the journey.
Unfortunately, however, there are times when leaning into it isn't a choice. Instead, grief grabs you by the collar and throws you to the ground. (Like it did for us on Maundy Thursday evening.) No chance of leaning into it there. The only thing to do at those times is simply survive the best you can. I didn't appreciate getting caught off guard like that and it made me angry. What sucks is that grief still has the power to ambush after 3 1/2 years. What sucks is sitting down in the front row at church (not by choice) and immediately realizing that the last time you sat there was your son's funeral. That royally sucks.
Sometimes grief ambushes and sometimes all you can do is endure the attack. Thankfully, I had volunteered to help out in the kitchen on Sunday at church as our youth group served the annual Easter breakfast. It was good to keep busy. It was also my turn for nursery duty that day, and I was only too glad to stay occupied. Finally, exhausted, I went home to take a nap. I knew I still had to make Easter dinner for my family, but I wasn't going to think about it until I had allowed myself some sleep. I woke a couple hours later to my husband saying that dinner was ready. He had made the entire meal! I was pleasantly surprised....and so relieved. We ate our meal and made it through the Easter weekend.
I wasn't as strong as I had hoped I would be for the weekend, but I realized that instead of leaning into my grief, I had been avoiding it. I learned a valuable lesson, one you think I'd have learned by now! It isn't easy to give in to the grief, to allow myself to acknowledge that there are still powerfully painful days. I want to say, "It's over. I'm done grieving." and that there will never be any more "bad" (a.k.a. grief) days. But that's simply not true. I just wanted to avoid the pain by denying it existed. How silly, for in denying the pain, I denied the opportunity to use it. I rejected God's invitation to turn to Him, to draw comfort and strength from the only One who understands my pain best.
There are always going to be the difficult days (holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, etc.) along this grief journey. They don't go away, they are a given. But it is what we do with them that determines how we survive them. Our response is key. We can take our pain and become bitter, or we can use the pain for purpose. We can purpose to do with our pain what God did with a fallen world....redeem it. Redemption doesn't deny the hurt or brokenness. It acknowledges it and then moves forward with intention. I am so thankful we have a God that redeems the broken things. And more importantly, He redeems broken people.