Monday, September 21, 2015

Grief is a Messy Casserole (As Seen on A Widow's Might)

"I caused the widow's heart to sing for joy." Job 29:13 {ESV}
Grief doesn’t follow an outline or a formula. Sure, there are stages to experience, but I have found that even those are more of a jumbled mess than a straight line to follow or a checklist to complete.

Grief is as unique and complex as the individual experiencing it.
I thought I knew how this grief game was going to play out. After all, there are plenty of books and published steps or stages for us to refer to. We had a few years notice that death was coming.
Let’s be clear, I don’t believe we will ever be fully healed from our grief in this life until Jesus returns.  None of us. I do believe we will learn to live beside and around it, that somehow it is possible to not be consumed by it.  This is what I am referring to when I reference “healing."
As “prepared” as I was for my husband’s passing, I could never have imagined how jumbled and chaotic the grief process would be. I knew grief would be a heavy blanket in our home. I knew that we would alternate kicking off those covers with snuggling under the heaviness of them.

What I did NOT mentally process until we were in the middle of the mess was the individual journeys progressing at their own pace yet existing all under the same roof.  Nor the very real fact that we weren’t each experiencing grief stages individually or collectively.  It was a mish-mash of emotions in three individual lives interacting with each other.  And most days it was suffocating for me.

Instead of making our way through the stages at our own pace, it felt much more like we were being force fed a nasty, casserole-mix of all the emotional grief stages--huge, overloaded spoonfuls of the grossest hodge-podge of cupboard ingredients tossed together and set in the oven to bake at 350 degrees for an hour then served tongue-scorching hot.  I kept thinking in my head, "Where is my checklist of stages? How can I possibly minister to my children in their grief when I can’t even sort out my own emotions?"

I guess I share this with you ladies because just maybe, a few of you have found grief to be less textbook and more messy casserole. I want to encourage you that it does get better.  The grief does become something that we can live with.

It takes determination and bravery to step out from under the heaviness of grief's weight, to get rid of the nasty aftertaste that lingers.  We are approaching the two year mark and the kids and I are living proof that through God’s mercy and strength, it can be done.

We are not “cured."

We are not “healed” in the traditional sense of the word.

But we are on the journey to healing in the ways that matter.

We are striving to live beautiful and full lives in spite of our grief.

Do the work, sisters.  Whether your grief is neat and orderly, following the stages outlined or is a nasty clump of yucky casserole you are choking on.  Keep leaning on Jesus.  Keep processing the emotions as they come.  Keep moving forward.

Healing is possible.

Lord God, thank You that You long to make the widows heart sing for joy.  Oh what a marvelously tender and loving God You are to us.  Your love and grace are the sweetest tastes we could ever experience.  Thank You for removing the bitter aftertaste of grief's casserole from our tongues and freeing us to worship You for the healing found in Your presence.  Amen.

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