Grief is a monster. Sometimes she sleeps. Sometimes she jumps from under a bed or lurks behind an innocuous door. At other times she rises to her full, horrific height and swallows everything in sight. Your only course of action is to let the waves of her attacks wash over you and feel her intensity. If you deny her this, she will grow and cause more damage than she would have if you had just let her have her way.
She loses power when you allow yourself to feel the pain, cry, and share your burden with others. Her strength fades when you seek wise counsel to help you reframe your loss, when you forgive the cause of your pain, and when you choose to look her in the eye and see her for what she is—a road you must travel through but not a place you have to live. These are some of the lessons I am learning during my season of loss.
About five months ago, my husband decided he no longer wanted to work to try to save our marriage. We had both made mistakes, had both said and done things we couldn’t take back. Despite over 15 years of investment, our marriage crumbled. My counselor warned me I would go through a period of grief. He even went so far as to say that in some ways divorce can cause a worse kind of grief than death because the ghost is out there walking around.
The first month or two, the grief monster was enormous.
She paralyzed me. My glasses were constantly tear-stained. I did well to get a shower every few days. Grief’s cousins, shame and despair, joined in on the assaults. If only I had said this or hadn’t done that. If only I had more faith. God is the God who can do more than I can imagine. My faith must be deficient. I am not good enough. I am not enough. I will never be enough. These were only some of the thoughts and feelings that plagued me.
Given that we have kids together, I am not spared seeing or communicating with the ghost. I expected to find interacting with him difficult. Even with this expectation in place, the monster hiding under the bed crawled out and attacked.
When we first separated, I was filled with a sharp pang of anger when he would end his text messages with thank you. I couldn’t understand my anger. Sure, I was grieving. Anger is a part of grief, but for weeks I couldn’t figure out why this bothered me so much. Then one day, it hit me. For 17 years, we ended text conversations with I love you. Thank you replaced I love you, and that fact cut deep. I’ve had to grieve not just the holistic issue of losing my marriage, but I’ve also had to mourn the tiny nuanced details of the loss.
Recently, I randomly stopped at a local CVS store to use the bathroom. While there, I decided to do some Christmas shopping. An item that was a perfect stocking stuffer for my daughter grabbed my attention. Suddenly, a precious memory flooded in. For my daughter’s first Christmas, I wasn’t planning on getting a stocking stuffer. I figured she was too young to appreciate it. At the last minute, I changed my mind, but not much was open on Christmas Eve. My future husband and I drove to that exact CVS to get a stocking stuffer for my daughter. As the memory replayed, tears streamed freely down my cheeks.
Grief had spontaneously pounced from her place behind the door.
Presently, I am still on my road of grief. The monster sleeps more often. Her power is weakening. This has come about due to countless moments of running to my Abba, Father, through counseling, and through leaning on several supportive friends and family members. I have come to terms with the fact that on my own, I am not enough. I am not enough to slay the grief monster, to change the bad in me, or to forgive my soon-to-be ex-husband for walking away. I am not enough, and I never have been.
However, even bigger than the grief monster and all of my earthly problems, there exists a loving, Heavenly Father who has made me his princess. He has heard every prayer for restoration, and he has walked with me through every moment of grief. He has assured me that He is enough, and I don’t have to be. With Him, I can do these things. As His daughter, I have access to His power, and that’s a power capable of more than I can ask or imagine.