Post Holiday Blues: When The Grief Comes Crashing Down

It’s a paradox really-that grieving hearts can be more anxious and more sorrowful BEFORE and AFTER a milestone day, birthday or holiday than on the day itself.

That’s not true for everyone, but it’s a frequent comment in our closed bereaved parent groups.

Fearful anticipation of how awful it MIGHT be can work me up into a frenzy.

Image result for grief anniversaries

The day of whatever it is usually passes quicker than I thought it could especially if there is a big meal involved and lots of people milling about.

Then everyone leaves and quiet darkness ushers in space and silence.

That’s the moment my heart recounts all the places Dominic should have been but wasn’t. That’s when I think of how his baritone voice was missing from the conversation, his laugh from the chorus of merry makers, his opinion from the slightly heated volley over politics or another current event.

I guess it’s kind of a holiday hangover without the booze.

But there’s no strange concoction I can drink to rid me of these symptoms.

Instead I have to give my heart permission to take out each feeling and FEEL it. I have to acknowledge that even when I spend the day laughing and enjoying family and friends, I still miss Dominic.

So I try to build a day (or two!) of recovery into my holiday planning.

And that’s OK.

Whenever possible that’s exactly what I do.

So you won’t find me rushing out to shop the day after Thanksgiving, Christmas or any of our own family’s unique grief anniversaries.

Instead I’ll wake slowly, drink coffee and watch the sunrise.

I might take a walk, read a book or write in my journal.

I will definitely find moments of solitude to acknowledge that once again I have survived what I thought I might not.

And for that, I’m grateful.

No Harm?

It’s so easy to take Bible verses out of context.  Our modern rendering of the Word of God broken into chapter and verse lends itself to lifting a sentence or two and ignoring the surrounding words.

Sometimes it doesn’t seem to matter much-the verse CAN stand on its own.

But sometimes it is devastating.  Especially to those who find themselves in a situation that seems to clearly contradict the promise.

Jeremiah 29:11 is a popular verse plastered on posters, coffee cups, graduation cards and lovely Christian wall hangings.

jeremiah 29 11 road.jpg

It’s a hard one for me to swallow the way it’s usually dished out.

Death feels pretty much like harm to me.

I can spiritualize the verse and say, “Well, God’s ultimate plan is to give me and Dominic a hope and a future”.  

That is absolutely true.  

But that’s not what Jeremiah was talking about.  He was speaking to a specific people at a specific point in time.

The original context of the Scripture was just for Israel-a promise that the nation would not be utterly destroyed or left bereft in exile. A promise that God would fulfill His covenant with Abraham and keep for Himself a people to declare His faithful love to the nations.

I think we moderns take it out of context when we apply it to individual lives.

Many Jews died in exile and not all who could return, chose to return when Cyrus issued the order.

The Scripture that speaks to my heart in this Valley of the Shadow of Death is this:

And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you.

Philippians 1:6 AMP

Here is my HOPE.  Here is MY promise of ultimate redemption and restoration.

God is still working to bring about His purpose in and through Dominic and in and through me “until the day of Jesus Christ”.

I don’t know how it works but He’s doing it.

He Who is Faithful and True has promised.

brought-me-safe

 

 

Longer Than Three Days: Waiting for Resurrection

It is tempting to forget that there were three long days and nights between the crucifixion and the resurrection beause the way we observe this season rushes us past the pain to embrace the promise.

But it’s not hard for me to imagine how the disciples felt when they saw Jesus was dead.  It was neither what they expected nor what they prayed for.

Read the rest here:  Living Between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection

Hope is My Lifeline

 

 

2013-christmas

A grainy picture is all I have left of that last Christmas together.

I first wrote this in 2013 before our circle was broken:

Eighteen days to ponder the coming of God’s great Gift.

We know the end of the story which can make us jaded and impatient.

If for a moment we can recapture the desperate hope that was in the heart of Israel longing for Messiah and then in the next remember that He has come, we will be forever changed.

I can’t characterize many things in this grief journey as “gifts”.

But there is ONE thing:  I am desperately longing for the coming again of Jesus the Christ.

The longing hope Israel felt is so much stronger in my own heart.

I understand in a very real way how much Israel hoped for His first coming.  I feel it in my bones.  

I wake every morning thinking, “Is THIS the day?”

jesus-is-coming

Hope is what I hold on to.

It’s my lifeline.

Goodness of God

“God is good, all the time.  All the time, God is good.” ~popular church saying.

I’ve never been comfortable with direction from the pulpit instructing people in the congregation to “repeat after me”.  Maybe I’m a little rebellious, but it always seemed disingenuous to appropriate someone else’s sentiment for my own.

And I think there is danger in adopting pet phrases to explain God (as if He can be explained) and creating shorthand for concepts that require so much more discussion to even begin to understand.

In fact, I think these bumper sticker mantras and t-shirt worthy slogans often push genuine seekers to the fringe because they cannot embrace simplistic explanations for complex issues.

I admit that there are times they slip from my mouth.  I might be too lazy to engage with someone or too hurried to take time to really listen to their heart.

But in the wake of losing my son, I’ve become much more aware of how simply repeating one-liners falls so very short in meeting the needs of those around me.

“God is good, all the time.  All the time, God is good.”

When spoken to someone whose life is going well seems like a benediction, an affirmation–a confirmation that God’s seal of approval rests on them and results in physical blessing.

“God is good, all the time.  All the time, God is good.”

When spoken to someone whose world is crumbling sounds like a rebuke or reproof–adjust your attitude because it can’t really be as bad as all that!

I think we misunderstand God’s goodness in each case.

I want to think of God’s goodness in terms of concrete benefits that I can point to in the physical world.  I want  to see tidy endings to messy stories that wrap things up so I can wrap my mind around them. I like stories of miraculous healing, safety in the midst of storms, provision from out of nowhere.

But so many who love Jesus die.  And there are Christ followers around the world who starve and who have no place to lay their head.  Are they unfaithful?  Are they unworthy?

I am beginning to embrace the truth that I have no idea, really, of what “good” is when I try to  use the word to describe  God. I cannot limit God’s goodness to only what I can see, feel, taste or touch.

I am learning that “good”, when speaking of God, is higher and bigger and different than anything I know.  My mind is not capable of comprehending the goodness of God in all its aspects and manifestations.

I have experienced the faithfulness of God, the provision of God and the Presence of God in the midst of this pain-but I had also experienced those things before my son left us.

I do not see the “good” in burying my son.

But right now I walk in half-light, in shadows and in partial revelation.  I cannot wrap my ongoing experience in the shadow of the valley of death into a tidy chapter book with a happy ending.

And I refuse to adopt simple explanations of the mystery of this pain.

I am living the story, leaning on God, trusting in His character and waiting for His revelation of how this apparent defeat will ultimately be victorious.

So I trust the truth of Scripture that tells me goodness is the character of God. And I rest in my past experience that in Christ all God’s promises are “yes” and “amen”.

And I long desperately,like a drowning man gasping for air, for the day when I will know fully even as I am fully known.

For now we are looking in a mirror that gives only a dim (blurred) reflection [of reality as in a riddle or enigma], but then [when perfection comes] we shall see in reality and face to face! Now I know in part (imperfectly), but then I shall know andunderstand fully and clearly, even in the same manner as I have been fully and clearly known and understood [by God]. I Corinthians 13:12 AMPC