Yesterday was my birthday. The second birthday I’ve “celebrated” without Jon. That’s how I track time now. Before Jon. After Jon. That’s not grief or mourning. It’s just the way it is. Keeping track of time by his death comes as naturally to me as breathing. Many don’t get it, but all who have walked through the valley do. They aren’t surprised. Or disturbed. Or tying to fix it. They just get it. That’s how they track time as well.
Yes, I still do a fair share of that, but grieving after 2 years (or 3 or 4 or 20) doesn’t mean I need to be fixed. Or that I’m not moving forward. Or not trusting God. Grieving is the work God and I are doing together. He’s very much a part of it. He isn’t worried about my questions — all my whys and hows. We’ve developed a deeper connection now that I’m in this ravine. He knows it. I know it. I’ve discovered He covets my honesty and vulnerability. He seems to work faster in my life now that I’m authentic and no longer covering life (and death) in spiritual platitudes. And He is fine with my tears and my anguished laments (I think I hear him cheering me on!) He hasn’t wearied of me coming again and again to him with my sadness over this new plan. Because to Him, it isn’t a new plan. He knew the plan all along. Pondering that helps me. It somehow offers me the courage to make plans, look for new meaning, and walk forward.
Why God? I don’t understand…
There will always be a part of me that grieves the loss of my husband.
God knew Jon would not be a part of my life now.
Why? And Yet. The two stand hand in hand. They always have… since the fall of man. Read David’s Psalms and you will see it. Why God? How God? And yet, God…
Well, that’s a different story…
This is how Merriam-Webster dictionary talks about grief and mourning:
/ɡrēf/ a noun
Deep sorrow, especially that caused by someone’s death.
/ˈmôrniNG/ a noun
The expression of deep sorrow for someone who has died, typically involving following certain conventions such as wearing black clothes.
Do you see it? The difference?
Grief IS deep sorrow. Mourning is the EXPRESSION of deep sorrow.
Someone can be full of grief and rarely express that to anyone. When we pray about our grief, we are mourning to God. When I write or speak about my loss, I am certainly mourning to God, but I am also reaching out and mourning to you. The blog essays. The Facebook posts. The phone calls and texts. The pleas for extra prayers. When I write about my grief, I am often wrestling something out and trying to figure out this new life of mine. Talking about it or writing it down helps me mourn and understand my own feelings. When someone is willing to listen, read, or respond, I am comforted.
I just need someone to witness the grief and hold the pain for just awhile.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.Matthew 5:4
This Beatitude. It has new meaning now, a deeper understanding. Blessed are those who mourn. It doesn’t say blessed are those who grieve. When the bereaved express their grief to someone else, they are, knowingly or not, seeking comfort. Hence the outward expression. When the bereaved reach out and talk about their loss, it’s doesn’t mean they are stuck and can’t move on. They may be very productive and coping well, but for an hour, a day, even a few days, they need us to remember. They need comforting. As the body of Christ, that’s what we are asked to do. Not fix it. Not offer platitudes. Not preach. Just enter the totally uncomfortable place of mourning and be there. Stand in that holy space. That’s all. Just be there.
There isn’t a guidebook or a plan. There is no right or wrong way to mourn. We were not created to die. We were created to live. That’s why all of us are ill-prepared to wrestle out grief and mourning.
We are broken human beings trying to deal with this thing called death.
This is new territory for me. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. I had never lost a soulmate until I lost my husband. But now, 19 months into this journey, I have come to realize I can be a woman of faith AND I can grieve deeply. The first does not negate the second and the second certainly does not negate the first. They will journey through life together, these two women within me, and I am blessed (and comforted) by a God who allows me to do so.
I continue to ask my whys and hows
and receive no answer.
I yell and scream at God
for doing this to me.
I refuse to walk with him.
I tell him I don’t believe in him anymore.
Of course, the irony is that
the whole time,
I’m still talking to him.
And he lets me.The Louder song, aubrey sampson
Blessed are they that lament and wail, for they shall be comforted.
Artwork by Aubrey Byers, my granddaughter