I have grieved the loss of loved ones and dear friends. I have grieved along with friends at their loss of loved ones. I have had the privilege to enter into other’s grief and have felt the deep ache of others’ pain. I have wanted to relieve it, though I know that is not my role. I remind myself and others to allow themselves to feel the grief and walk through it.
When there is a physical death, grief seems accepted as a companion that people know should be around for a time, but them we want to rush past and try to feel better, “to get over it.” I have heard people say this to friends. I know they mean well, but I think it is more that as a culture we are just uncomfortable with grief. It is not a controllable emotion. It never seems to come at a convenient time and even when you think it has left, it shows up at the most unexpected moments.
Grief related to death does not surprise me. It seems most expected and definitely a gift that comes because we have loved. It allows us to process and really feel if we will allow it to do its work. God says he wants to comfort us. When we allow ourselves to grieve, God will enter and comfort us with a special comfort. He says he is close to the brokenhearted but the second part deals with a different grief I think. He saves those crushed in spirit. (Ps 34:18)
There is a grief that comes with losing a friend, or a job. There is a grief that comes with moving. There is a grief that comes when there is a deep disappointment. This is the one that has caught me off guard numerous times, this death of a different type. I have said and heard others say, I need to get over this. I shouldn’t feel this way. There is an unidentified grief that comes out as sadness, anger, or frustration. When we name it and allow ourselves to feel it there comes a comfort and peace, but until it is named, it comes out in so many ways that are confusing and frustrating.
Sometimes we can experience something over and over, one time it causes grief and the next time it doesn’t. I am thankful for friends who know me and speak truth into my life and help me identify things that I don’t always see. I had a serious meltdown after one of our moves. I was so confused about what my problem was. I kept chastising myself, “what is your problem? Get with the program and get on.”
God used a friend to gently say, “it sounds like your grieving.” When she said it out loud she gave me permission to grieve. I did not realize or want to acknowledge this companion, but once it was named there was a comfort and a hope that was not there when I tried to ignore the grief and suck it up and move on. I needed to walk through the grief.
Grief can leave a scar or can stay an open wound. When I have named it in my own life and those in my circle, I have watched God comfort and strengthen and heal the individual. Out of their healing and comfort, they see others and are able to offer that same comfort to others. This is God’s plan and it is beautiful.
But when we are not honest or we try to out run the grief, it festers and even when we say we are fine, it always finds its way to the surface. It becomes a hindrance in our relationships and life when it is not acknowledged. Grief is scary and hard. It can be difficult to admit or identify, but when we do it allows us to connect with God and others in a way that nothing else allows. The most beautiful people I know are ones who have known grief deeply and allowed God and others to enter that space. The scars are still there, but there is a beauty and strength that comes from naming and leaning in to that uncomfortable, yet holy space.