I promised myself I would not write another blog about grief without first writing about something else, because I don’t want to tire my readers with my sorrow. But here I am. Grief is a continual struggle. It is what occupies even the deepest corner of my heart. And so, I write some more.
I write for me. I write for those who cannot write. I write for those who are so burdened and swallowed by their grief as they struggle to sort their emotions. And I write because I feel God leading me to.
No matter if you know me or not, I pray my blogs may be uplifting and encouraging.
Grief is a lonely road. Not everyone has lost someone dear to them, but of the ones who have, few offer much support. Friends are to stand by you, through your darkest hours, through the most sorrowful and grief-stricken moments of your life. Yet few do. They tend to run like the wind when they realize their friend’s cry is turning monotonous. And oh no, the tears! Nothing like tears to send people into a tizzy; people squirm in their seats, excuse themselves or evade you by frantically searching for a box of tissues. But a friend, or simply someone who cares, should offer their time: willingly offer their shoulder for tears, their ears for listening and their mouth for encouragement. Because soon enough, the tables will turn and they will be forced to walk the same lonely road as you.
Grief is a silent trial. Most, perhaps, appear quite normal and functional on the outside. Society has taught us this is the proper and acceptable way. Those who have lost loved ones know it’s far worse than it looks, and yet still manage to somehow make it look almost easy; even after they are through the first month or two. I cannot speak of grief past a year – because I’m not there yet, but others have told me the first year is the hardest. And I can testify it’s been difficult!
Society has taught us to move on with our lives. Don’t talk about those we mourn – they’re gone. Society has also taught us to not talk about our feelings. No one likes a cry baby. Presenting yourself as a blubbering mess when you step out into the world may be a bit out of the norm, but there will be moments when you fall apart; there will be days when the hot tears reside just behind your eyes, and that’s okay. Perhaps that’s why most fear to face the world after a loss. Tears imply weakness. It’s a myth. Tears are an outward expression of your inward heartache. Crying happens when our hearts overflow with emotion and the words escape us. When children cry, we scold them. (And there is a difference between whining and crying.) They are taught it’s not appropriate to cry. “Don’t be a baby,” we tell them. From little on up they learn that crying is unacceptable and wimpy. As adults we are programmed to believe crying is a sign of weakness.
Sin has also created self-centered, rushed people who simply don’t care nor have time for anyone else. To give someone else a piece of our time cuts into our own precious and limited time; because we’d rather go home to cuddle a bag of chips in front of the television and fall into our beds selfishly pleased than be there for someone else’s tragedy, or maybe we have another excuse. A challenge for us all is to put away the excuses and be available to others.
Occasionally you may encounter someone you’d rather avoid because that’s all they talk about! I certainly don’t want to be like that! Really, I seldom talk about my dad (except with my mom and sometimes my husband). No one talks about my dad; no one asks me how I’m doing. A few tell me they’re praying, and they have no idea how much just that is an encouragement to me! Since I don’t want to be one of those people who talk about their grief constantly, then I ask… When can I talk about my grief? And with who? And how much is too much? (Perhaps that’s why I blog.)
If we don’t talk about our sorrow then we’re holding it all in, and we’re told, “You need to talk about it”; but if we talk about it we’re criticized or avoided because you’re tired of hearing about it. But, as I typed the previous sentence, I wonder… Perhaps we assume you’re tired of hearing about it, because we confuse our inner and outer voices. We are always thinking about it so we’re never sure if we talked about it out loud or just thought about it. Sometimes our outer voice is just a continuation of our inner voice (thoughts).
And hey, I don’t necessarily want to talk about the sadness. I want to talk about my dad the same way as if he were still alive. Before his death, I never felt guilty or hesitated to bring him up in a conversation. Why should that change now? I want to share his memories, talk about the things he did, tell you about his sense of humor, his goofiness and his godliness. And if you knew him, I want you to share a funny story; I want you to tell me how he influenced your life or what you miss about him. I want to talk about him, with no reservations, because I know you truly care and won’t be annoyed by hearing me talk about him.
So, if you’re afraid of bringing him up in conversation, don’t be! I’m already sad. Talking about him actually helps. If what you say makes me cry, it’s okay; unless, of course, it’s insensitive. Crying is healthy and necessary (don’t let society fool you!). If you tire of hearing about him, then please just hang in there by my side and wait patiently while I process his death. And do this because you care about me, not out of obligation.
In everything there is a lesson, even in death. I heard on the radio recently, something quoted from A.W. Tozer. (I haven’t been able to find the exact quote yet.) So, I am paraphrasing, but it goes something like this: God allows certain trials and struggles in our lives because the lesson to be learned couldn’t be learned in any other format.
It’s no lie that I depended a lot on my dad – probably too much. He fixed everything; he knew everything; he was always there for me. He was my daddy, my hero. Naturally, his diagnosis of leukemia rocked my world. He told a few people while in the hospital: “I think they [referring to my youngest brother and me] are learning to let go and go on without me.” *choking up*
Though it seems my dad was ripped from my very tightly-closed fist, perhaps I wouldn’t have learned to solely depend on my heavenly Father if my earthly father was still here with me. Sometimes God must use extreme measures to teach us a lesson and help us be more Christ-like, because we wouldn’t learn it any other way.
And I am certain God has many other purposes for my dad’s death. Because nothing in God’s plan is without effectual purpose.
“God never uses anyone greatly until He tests them deeply.”