Grief is Weird
Our family has been walking through a season of grief since last year. My husband’s dad passed away in February 2021 and then both of our moms passed away within 6 weeks of each other this year. Three of our parents…gone. Just like that.
It still seems so unfair. There is just a huge hole in our hearts that is hard to fill. Honestly, I don’t think it’s possible to fill that hole with anything tangible in this world. No amount of effort on our part will ever take the place of what they meant to us and how much we miss them. And now I find myself longing for heaven in a greater way than ever before just so I could be close to them again. It’s interesting how a loss of this magnitude has shifted my mind towards heaven and makes “the things of this earth grow strangely dim.”
Unfortunately, grief doesn’t just happen once or twice in our lifetimes. It happens more often that we would like to admit. John and I have walked the pain of loss many times throughout the married life. But one event stands out in sharp contrast to all the others for me because of how intensely I felt it and how long my mourning lasted. About 23 years ago, we miscarried two babies in one years. That grief was almost unbearable. It was a very dark time for me. I grieved deeply for those babies for a long time; almost to the point of being clinically depressed. It was difficult to keep functioning, doing the everyday things that were necessary to keep my family moving. I was definitely in survival mode and didn’t know how to ask for help. It was awful. And honestly, it seemed incredibly unfair that the rest of the world got to just keep going without stopping to acknowledge and join me in my pain.
In contrast, this current round a grief has been very different and that has confused me. I don’t know if it was because I didn’t have the time to really sit in my grief and reflect on it. I couldn’t. There was work to be done, people to take care of, plans to be made, traveling to do. There was not time for a break to just sit and think about all we've lost. It felt like I had to just move forward regardless of how numb I felt. Perhaps, I had to be numb to continue functioning. I don’t know. Don’t get me wrong, I have had my moments and continue to have random moments of guttural, uncontrollable tears. But this time, walking through this grief, felt like I didn’t really “feel” it as deeply or for as long as I should have.
But why? I’m not sure there’s an answer for that. The one thing I’m learning about grief is that we all wear it differently. And we walk in grief at different stages of our lives for different reasons so our response is different for each thing/person we grieve. We grieve lost dreams, lost jobs, lost homes, lost marriages, lost children, lost time, lost memories, lost health, lost ministries, lost pets, lost businesses, lost loved ones. You name it, if we’ve lost it, we grieve it… in our own way, in our own time.
Here’s what I do know. Grief comes in many forms. It can make us angry at times. It may bring prolonged depression. It may bring determination and perseverance. It may bring indifference. It may bring frustration. It may make us numb. It may bring loneliness. It may make us feel lost or purposeless. It may bring despair that never seems to go away. It may bring a darkness to our spirits. It might even bring relief and joy. Or we may just walk in it and not experience many emotions at all. It’s weird just how differently grief hits each of us as we walk this earth.
I have actually said that many times since my mom died, “Grief is weird.” That’s really the only way I can describe it. I’m learning that there’s not a right way or a wrong way to grieve. There’s no time limit on grief. There’s no textbook or self-help book that can teach us the best way to grieve. As Nike says, you “just do it” and it is what it is.
Why? Because we are all wired so incredibly differently. Emotions and feelings are different for every person in every season on any given day. That’s how God designed us to be. That’s actually the beauty of God’s creation, isn’t it? We are all so amazingly and beautifully different. So, grief is the same. It is not a one size fits all thing. It’s something we each walk through and process at many points throughout our lives. It just hits differently no matter what we think it should look like or how we think we should feel. That's why it can be so confusing. Because just when we think we've "nailed it" and moved on, something reminds us of what/who we've lost and we start all over again with the questions, the feelings and the wondering.
It turns into a learning process for us if we allow it to. It’s something that God can use to shape us into the people He wants us to be. I know, that sounds cliché. And trust me, there have been days when a statement like that would send me right over the edge. But today, I believe that. Today, I embrace that God wants to teach me something through this season of grief no matter how different it looks from other seasons of grief in my life.
I know there are many of you reading this right now who are walking through your own grief. I want to validate you and encourage you. You are not alone. Your grief is real and I see you. We may be grieving different things in different ways, but there are others out here who want to encourage you in some way. But one thing I’m understanding is that we have to learn to let people in and ask for help if we need it. We have to stop telling people that we’re fine when we’re not. And trust me, I’m the queen of “I’m fine.” And here I am telling myself the same thing I’m telling you; do everything you can to be honest with yourself and a trusted friend. Share your true feelings so that you feel connected and supported in your grief.
Question: How have you been helped the most while walking through your own seasons of grief? For me, it was just having people acknowledge my grief and sit in it with me. No words of wisdom. No Bible verses. Just sitting with me, hugging me, crying with me and accepting my grief as is in all its ugliness and weirdness. That has made the most difference for me. Oh…and having a dinner or two delivered during those times of grief was a major blessing too. Not gonna lie.
My call to action is to look for someone who is grieving and find a way to bless and encourage them today. You never know how your actions will help them grow and process through their grief so they can feel alive again even if it is just in that moment. They will have that moment to look back on and appreciate. It’s a memory that will be indelibly stamped upon the tablet of their hearts as they look back on their days of grief. They will remember. It will make a difference. Trust me.