I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope:
Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
I say to myself, “The LORD is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.”
The LORD is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him;
it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.
Lamentations 3:19-26 (empahsis added)
“Dear friends, family, and colleagues:
Recently I have suffered a devastating loss. I am grieving and it will take months and even years to recover from this loss. I wanted to let you know that I will cry from time to time.” These tears are God’s gift to me and a sign of recovery.
“At times you may see me angry for no apparent reason. Sometimes I’m not sure why. If I don’t always make sense to you, please be forgiving and patient to me…
More than anything, I need your understanding and your presence. You don’t always have to know what to say, or even say anything, if you don’t know how to respond…
Pray for me that I would come to see meaning in my loss someday and that I would know God’s comfort and love. It does help me to let me know you are praying for me…”
(Revell, 2006, GriefShare workbook)
This past December, my mother passed away from cancer. She was diagnosed two months prior, so while her death was expected, it was not expected so soon. Since then, I have attempted to pick up the pieces, knowing I now live in the world as an only child of a deceased single parent. The letter above is a mostly pre-written letter from the GriefShare workbook I have been using to help me process each day.
I wrote this last month in response to a question in the workbook:
My petitions are for my sorrows to be understood by those who don’t understand by experience. Ultimately though, Our Lord and Comforter is the only one who can.
Those first few weeks following her death, I didn’t want to learn this lesson. I still don’t, to be honest. I want to run to my friends, boyfriend, coworkers, family — I desperately want them to relate to what I’m feeling. While they can attempt to empathize, God is the True Comforter. He is the one who knew my innermost parts before I was even born. He is the One who suffered the most. He is the one who is desperate for us to run to Him.
If only my actions reflected that knowledge. Instead, it somehow makes me frustrated that people don’t get what I’m feeling and experiencing. Even this grief book or grief podcasts — I’m desperate for them to help me ascertain my confusing emotions and thoughts.
Every person’s story of grief is different. Even my own family members’ stories of our current grief over the same person are indeed different. Therefore, this is one of the most frustrating yet needed areas of growth I discovered I have needed:
Sometimes clinging to Him is my only option.
Then I say to myself, “Wow, Bailey, a little unholy to say that relying on our Rock and Redeemer is apparently a last resort, the last stop on the bus route of comfort and connection.” Yeah, I know.
I was reading a book about leadership and trust recently, and the author said trust is measured by whether a person can be relied upon when asked for help. I thought to myself, “That’s true! What a good lesson. I’ll go share that useful lesson with my students next week.”
Then it dawned on me, in connection with my lack of reliance on his comfort:
Am I doing that with God?
Am I even asking God for help in this terrible season? I say I trust him and have seen his mercy flow every day since her death, but are my thoughts and words demonstrating that belief? Or am I just trying to keep busy, obsessing over how to quickly return to normalcy, looking to people and things around me to give me comfort? Look at my prayers. They’re not even about the grief most of the time. I focus on anything but that — I’ll write about how merciful God is, asking for help in whatever situation is going on at work, asking him to help Grandma grieve, or just make the random onslaught of tears go away. There’s not a great deal of asking God to be my comfort and hope and to have compassion on me.
Obviously God can turn this ship around. I can make time for grief work (which is hard work, I might add). I am not patient, not even with myself in grief, but I can get better at patience through this season by waiting on Him, hoping in Him, and seeking Him.
Indeed, he awaits us all to do the same no matter what season of life you are encountering now.
“God, I know I have to release these emotions in order to heal. Help me to grieve honestly over the suffering and sorrow in my life and in this world, and then to seek, anticipate, and accept the comfort You have for me… Every time I try to turn back and live in unsafe places in my mind, help me to run to you again. Amen.” (two prayers from the GriefShare workbook)