Go through it.
If you have found yourself broken and grieving the loss of someone you love, I want you to know I’m so sorry that you have to go through this. This could possibly be the hardest thing you will ever go through and you need to know that it is OK to not be OK.
For whatever reason, the person you love is not here anymore and no matter how many other people are surrounding and supporting you, it still hurts and feels lonely.
Right now, probably the worst thing you could do is worry about impressing others with how you handle it.
I believe Christians especially feel obligated to put on a brave face and say they are fine and that they still trust in God’s plan when the truth is, they don’t really know what to think. If you are that person, please understand you can grieve with hope, but you can still grieve. Let yourself go through it.
Here’s why I say that . . .
My beautiful wife Lyndsie battled cancer fiercely for almost 10 years. I had the honor of being there by her side from the very beginning to the very end and I watched in awe as she bravely fought for her life and for the ones she loved. She was determined to thrive in spite of her situation and she was refined like gold by the fires she had to walk through.
The days and weeks after Lyndsie’s death were so intense and overwhelming. But even in the raw pain, I knew that it was my job to stay strong and to represent her and the strength she had shown so well as we prepared to honor her life. That meant trying to pick out a casket that in some weird, depressing way reflected her style and walking through a cemetery to choose a spot that seemed as peaceful as possible, knowing that people would come there to visit for many years to come. That meant standing next to her casket for four hours as an overwhelming line of amazing family and friends encouraged and comforted us. It meant picking out songs for the funeral that captured her life. And that meant standing up at her funeral and talking about the way her love rescued my life and showed me the hope of Heaven. I firmly believe that God gave me and everyone in the family the supernatural strength and presence of mind to hold it all together for those few days because that’s what we needed to do.
But then I grieved.
The majority of people who had seen me standing strong and talking about Jesus with an urgency and speaking about heaven with a longing in my voice wouldn’t have recognized me over the next days and weeks. I got sick, lost weight, and avoided sleeping in a bed because it reminded me even more that Lyndsie wasn’t there. I didn’t return calls or texts unless it was about the kids. I looked at so many old pictures of us dating and her holding our children, I read her blog from start to finish and just went through it.
I didn’t try to convince anyone that I was OK, because I wasn’t.
But there was an unexpected beauty in being broken where I became empty of myself and became willing to listen to God speak to my heart.
Through God’s word and through defining moments, I began to hear Him speaking truth and purpose into my pain. He had my full attention and the promises I was reminded of in that season of despair and grief turned out to be the foundation of my healing and my future. My eyes were opened to the hurt and pain of others and a longing to share the hope and love of Jesus was stirred in my soul. And even though I never want to go back to that place of raw grief, I will never forget what I learned by going through it.
So, if you are in that same place, my prayer for you is that you would allow yourself to hurt right now.
If you try to push it down deep in your soul and avoid dealing with it, it will show up later with a vengeance. Allow yourself to feel all the things grief brings because each one reveals how inadequate we are in our own strength. When we feel out of control, we are reminded of who is in control. When we are broken, we realize our need for a healer. When we are lost, we desire to be found. When we feel like we are drowning, we desperately want to be rescued. When we don’t know who we are anymore, we long to belong.
And slowly but surely we will begin to see who is in control, who is our healer, who is looking for us, who will rescue us and who we belong to . . . our Heavenly Father.