Usually when we think of the word grief it implies a negative connotation, and quite honestly, I’m sure we can all understand why. Websters defines grief as, “deep and poignant distress.”
During the early days of walking this grief journey I could think of nothing else other than the deep sadness and missing my daughter. The hollowness I felt inside. That very early stage and face of grief was like no other time in my life. Darkness, disbelief, and distress consumed my every waking thought.
As the days churned by the look of grief began to take on another face – loneliness. The missing and longing for what was, what could have been, go hand in hand like soul sisters. A place you sit, alone with your thoughts. Friends and family have gone on with their lives and you are left alone, in the brokenness of what remains.
These are all normal responses to grief. Those who have gone before me on this journey continue to encourage that the darkness will not always be so dark. The pain, not so sharp. The emptiness and void left behind, although still remaining, will not be so wide and gaping.
There came a time I knew I couldn’t sit in that darkness forever and began crying out to the Lord. I needed help. I needed salve for my broken heart. I already knew there was no one on this side of heaven who could heal my heart and take the deepest sadness away. I knew I needed someone to help me walk this road and make it through the many faces of grief or I simply would not survive.
As I sat outside, I began to see and hear so much that was going on around me. The trees were green, the emerging colors of spring had popped up everywhere, the echo of a owl in the distance, the songs of the birds as they made their nests and tried to discreetly lay their eggs, and even the loud chattering of those annoying squirrels brought a smile to my face. I began to realize that these were also faces – faces of life taking place in the middle of the grief.
Out of nowhere I began to hear the words to one of the most well know psalms in the Holy Bible, Psalm 23. I decided to look it up and began reading various translations. These were no longer words on paper, but they became alive to me.
1 Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need!
2-3 He lets me rest in the meadow grass and leads me beside the quiet streams. He gives me new strength.
4 Even when walking through the dark valley of death I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me, guarding, guiding all the way. (Ps 23:1-4 TLB)
Excerpts from another translation:
True to your word,
you let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.
4 Even when the way goes through
I’m not afraid
when you walk at my side.
5You revive my drooping head;
my cup brims with blessing.
6 Your beauty and love chase after me
every day of my life. (Ps 23 1-6, MSG)
Oh my gosh, this was hope for my weary soul! So even though we are still walking this grief journey, and we are going through the valley of death, He lets us catch our breath and sets us in the right direction! Wow! He revives my drooping head! Yes, Lord, my head needs to be lifted up!
As time continues to pass and I remain walking this journey, I’m thankful for yet the other faces of grief. Compassion. Understanding. Empathy. Yes, these are also faces of grief, too.
These faces have become illuminated in my life more so than ever before. If given a choice I would not have asked to be placed on this grief journey. None of us would have asked for our loved one to be taken from our lives. But in viewing this in a positive way, I ask myself,
“Would the faces of compassion, understanding and empathy ever made its way into my heart as strongly as it is now, if I had not first had to endure the faces of grief, distress, darkness, sadness, or loneliness?”
When the worst of the worst has happened in your life, it gives many moments of pause. Instead of rushing from one thing to another I now stop and look around. I seem to take more notice of those around me who are hurting and in need.
I’ve learned that things are no longer so important. It’s not things at all, it’s people and the heart of those who surround us.
This journey may continue to be a winding, continuous loop, with ever-changing paths reminiscent of a rollercoaster, but remember, there is someone who is the lifter of our drooping heads! May today be a day where you realize you can stop, catch your breath, and be turned in a new direction. Let today be the day you can have Hope During Loss.