I’ve heard it said that every person is either going into a storm, in the middle of one, or on their way out of one. Grief is one of those storms. It crashes into our lives after the loss of beloved people or things, and it doesn’t behave in any clearly understandable way. Just as every person is different, everyone experiences grief uniquely. Because of that, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all rule book. Here are some things I’ve been learning through my own tumultuous journey with loss and grief.
The last two months were excellent examples to me that too much of a good thing can be harmful. February could be described as excess, while March was clearly stress. Here’s to proceeding into April with grace and balance.
In a month that seemed especially dark and icy, it's was wonderful to be able to hold a brand new baby. In both my heart and my arms I felt light, joy, hope and peace from God.
In February 2016, the lives of Lindsey Atkins and Lizzie Lindberg went through epic changes that culminated to a profound juxtaposition on Saturday, February 20th. These circumstances compelled us to write our stories together.
At that time and even right now I wonder, was it worth it? Was it truly better to have passionately loved Eric and to have felt the tearing anguish of his absence than to never have loved him at all? Most of the time my answer to those questions is a resounding "YES." Other times, when breathing becomes like rocket science and surviving is my only goal… I wonder if love is worth the pain of loss.
The loss of a beloved pet is one of the hardest things I have ever experienced. It is the loss of one who loved unconditionally and was there when it seemed like no one else was. It is the loss of a helper, a tender teacher, a faithful listener, a friend. It's the changing of lovely memories into sad remembrances because of obvious absence. It's the creation of sacred moments that once seemed inconsequential. Today, I remember my grief for Teddy less frequently than I once did, and the reality of his absence affects the tone of my day much more subtly than it did when the cut was fresh. Yet, the unique type of grief I experienced when my Teddy left this world is not something I expect to ever forget.
Since 2015, I’ve been able to participate in a women’s conference held in Zuarungu, Ghana in West Africa. These beautiful women have taught me to dance. They have inspired me with their wonderful ability to choose joy and hope and trust in spite of the very difficult lives they live. Let me explain.
From birth, children are hardwired to speak up to make sure their needs are met. When a baby belts out her first post-womb cry, she asks, “What about me? Do you see me? Will you help me?” Her wailing likely stops when her call is answered with a blanket or as she receives food. When a preschooler says, “Mom, Mama, MOMMY!” he generally isn’t left without a reply. As a child, I asked “What about me?” a lot. My parents nearly embellished a T-shirt for me with the phrase. Unfortunately, it did not continue to be cute as I aged. My first inclination is always to wonder, “What about me?” In the context of Christian leadership, my self-focus can take away from my ability to be effective in seeing and meeting the needs of others: my purpose for leading in the first place.
When tragedy fell on my family, I doubted more than anything else that I would ever be happy again on earth. In those days, the darkness was so dense that even the brightest truths couldn't cut through the heaviness in my heart. I truly did not expect to experience belly-laughing good times ever again. I assumed I would taste joy, because of the hope of Heaven after this world, and I predicted that someday I would smile at lovely memories. I did expect to see some kind of light at the end of this tunnel. But happiness? Not likely. Not in this lifetime. Until bright spots started breaking through the cracks of my brokenness.
Jesus is my Wonderful Counselor and Mighty God. He is an Everlasting Father to me and to my children. He is the Prince of Peace. Because of these things, I know that He is good, and I can trust His government & direction for my steps. (Isaiah 9:6). I am so very thankful that Jesus came unto me, that He came Unto Us.