I have very tiny feet, like I’m almost 30-years-old and I can comfortably wear a women’s 5 ½ or 6. It’s sometimes quite frustrating to find shoes because stores usually only order a few boxes in those sizes so once they’re gone, they’re really gone. I also struggle to find shoes without some Disney character or pop singer on them.

My daughter, Sophie, also had tiny feet. She wore her super cute 12-18 month shoes basically from 12 months until she died at two-and-a-half. Her FAVORITE shoes were her navy Crocs. Whenever we were leaving the house, the Crocs had to be on her feet. She’d bring them to me every time . . . and was always disappointed if I wanted her to wear much cuter shoes. She loved them so much that we buried her in them. Well, we buried her in new navy Crocs because I kept her beloved, well worn-in pair for myself.

I’ve decided that grief is like Crocs.

Crocs are ugly. They feel weird and uncomfortable when you first put them on because they have those bumps on the inside. You inevitably will get a blister from that rubber strap going across the back of your heel. Yes, they come in all kinds of colors and designs but, no matter what you do to them, they’re still ugly. Even if you add the cute little characters that you pop into the tops holes, they just still aren’t that appealing. Yet you wear them, as if they were a gift from a relative and you don’t want to hurt their feelings even though you really want to exchange them for a pair you actually would pick for yourself.

Grief is the same way. It’s uncomfortable and ugly when you first put it on. There are bumps and it will rub a blister on you that leaves you limping and feeling raw. No matter what your grief looks like or what you do with it, it’s still ugly. You can cry, rage, ignore it, go crazy, stay busy, or lay in bed for days . . . they’re all ugly. Yet, you wear it and the Lord wears it with you. He is wearing the Crocs, too. He feels the blisters. He is the Band-Aid that will soothe the raw skin.

“Surely He has borne our grief and carried our sorrows,” Isaiah 53:4.

Crocs, like grief, are not my first choice and I’d exchange them in a heartbeat. Nevertheless, all new shoes have to be broken in. When you wear Crocs for awhile, you eventually start to get comfortable in them. You can bear the bumps and your skin is a little thicker so a blister can’t form as easily. You still don’t really like them and you still think they’re ugly, but you start to appreciate them.

No one chooses the life of a grieving parent. God didn’t ever want that as part of our lives. Death was never supposed to be in the picture. The world broke long ago and our Father took on the role of the ultimate grieving parent so He could help us in our grief and promise us an eternity with Him and our lost children. Matthew 5:4 says “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.”

He comes alongside us in our ugly grief and raw hurt and he helps us break in the Crocs.

Shelby Skiles

Shelby Skiles is a wife, teacher, and mom to her two-year-old angel, Sophie. Sophie passed away in January 2018 from Lymphoma. Shelby chronicled Sophie’s entire battle through her blog Sophie The Brave and hopes that transparently sharing her journey through, motherhood, cancer, and now grief will inspire others to look passed their circumstances and see that God is bigger than all of it. She’s deeply committed to honoring Sophie’s memory by sharing her story and I spring others to ‘Do More’ and make a difference.