The gift of grief

Last November, December & January our family suffered the loss of my niece and two uncles. It felt as if grief wouldn’t stop coming, waves on waves. I didn’t have time to get my mind around one loss before another came along. During this time the word that I connected with the most was heavy. I felt heavy. Life felt heavy. The air around me felt heavy. Everything took enormous effort. Then one morning during this time, God gave me the phrase “the gift of grief”.

That’s confusing right? Gifts are good things. I should know, I’m a gift girl. It’s one of my love languages. I love a nice personalized, thoughtful gift. I don’t need expensive gifts, although I’d never turn my nose up at some nice jewelry. But even my favorite jewelry is personalized. I have a bracelet with 6 discs, each disc has handwriting from my most important people – my husband, my 3 boys, my momma and daddy.

So, if my definition of a gift is good, thoughtful and personalized, grief doesn’t fit the bill. Or does it?

Is it good to grieve? I think it is. God created us with emotions. We have to feel our feelings. We don’t have to be defined by them. We can take them to God and He is faithful to walk with us through them.

Is grief personal? A hearty AMEN to this one! There is no one way to grieve, we all do it differently. There may be stages of grief but there are not steps that we all complete one by one in the same order.

How about thoughtful? Death isn’t thoughtful. It’s quite rude actually – uninvited and unwanted. But grief brings with it lots of thoughts, it causes reflection. It arrives with loads of questions. Most of them start with why and they can drive you crazy.

BUT GOD…

But we do not want you to be uniformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others who have no hope. 1 Thessalonians 4:13

As believers, we are to grieve differently. We are to grieve keeping in mind the hope we have in Jesus. The gift of God’s love, grace, mercy and eternity with Him. We can take the questions that haunt us to God. He is attentive. He is faithful to comfort us and be near. For me, this meant bringing to mind memories, happy and sad. When the memories were sad and regrets started me spiraling, I had to be intentional about thinking about who God is, His character and what He says about me.

Perhaps grief is a gift intended to draw us closer to God. Perhaps grief is a gift to show us God the comforter. Perhaps I’ve learned to rely on God through my grief. I will never choose grief but when it comes I’ll try to use it to remember the life and impact of my loved one and the goodness of God.

Friend, if you’re grieving today, take it to God. He is faithful to comfort you. It’s not a quick process. Stay with Him, keep praying. Please don’t take this to say that you need to grieve alone with just you and God. I had people around me, listening to me, holding me up, loving me through this grief. And it’s ongoing. It does come in waves and on unexpected days. If you are feeling pulled under by your grief, please reach out to both God and people around you or to me. Grief must be witnessed because love must be witnessed.

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