At first grief felt only like sorrow and longing and brokenness.
Then it felt like confusion and anxiety and despair.
A little further along this journey it mostly felt like apathy.
Now it feels like love.
It’s the same love that helped me hold on when I was face first in the toilet every morning for seven months. Morning sickness with Dominic lasted nearly the whole pregnancy! With two young children already in our home, it was one of the hardest seasons of my life.
It’s the same love that demanded they bring me my baby when they whisked him away due to “concerns” after birth. Twenty-four hours later, c-section or no c-section, I told the nurse I’d be marching my butt down to the nursery if they didn’t bring him to me right away. (It was a different time-no real “rooming in”.)
It’s the same love that worked with my frustrated little boy to make his words sound clear and correct. Slow down, hit the hard consonants, be precise in how you form your lips. He grew up to give the undergraduate address when he graduated from UAB in front of thousands.
It’s the same love that listened when he told me his troubles, his fears and his dreams. So, so many nights he’d come in, flop down backwards on my bed and proceed to talk until I was just about to drift off to sleep.
It’s the same love that held his hand as people walked by expressing condolences.
It’s the same love that kissed his cold cheek before they lowered the casket lid. Told him, “Good-bye” and walked upright from the sanctuary.
I refused to dishonor his brave life by giving in to my personal fear.
Grief is really just love.
Dominic has been my son since he sat safely in my womb.
He’s still my son.
My love is not diminished because I can no longer touch him.
It was a harsh sentence: Forty years of wandering in the desert for not putting their faith and trust in the God who had delivered them from bondage.
But wandering wasn’t the half of it.
Death surrounded them. All those adults who gave in to fear were doomed to die before the forty years were finished.
Can you imagine how many graves were dug in the wilderness? How many tears were shed? How many fists raised to the sky or hands to hearts begging, begging, begging for the sojourn of sadness to end?
So it was no accident that the Lord commanded Israel to set her camp with the Tent of Meeting at the center. He wanted them always to be aware of His enabling, powerful, holy Presence.
Even in the midst of judgement, death and sorrow. He was there.
And God is here with me in the midst of my mourning too. I am thankful for His Presence.
But the most beautiful promise is that there will be a Day when He will wipe away all the tears. He will redeem all the pain. He will undo all the damage death has wrought.
Joy will once again be untainted by sorrow.
And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.
Revelation 21:3-4 KJV
I make seasonal wreaths for Dominic’s resting place. I include these verses every time.
Because I believe them with my whole heart.
I love the way The Jesus Storybook by Sally Lloyd-Jones renders them:
And the King says, “Look! God and his children are together again. No more running away. Or hiding. No more crying or being lonely or afraid. No more being sick or dying. Because all those things are gone. Yes, they’re gone forever. Everything sad has come untrue. And see – I have wiped away every tear from every eye!“
Jesus Storybook Bible, Sally Lloyd-Jones
“Everything sad has come untrue.”
Heaven will not simply be rest after a long life’s struggle.
It will be restoration, redemption, recreation and resurrection.
Every thing stolen will be restored. Every thing bartered away by sin will be redeemed. Every thing destroyed by carelessness, hatefulness and cruelty will be recreated in perfection. And every thing dead and buried will be resurrected to life everlasting.
I can’t wait. ❤
What does it mean to you that “God is here”?
What do you think Heaven is like? Is your idea informed by popular media or by Scripture?
Does the idea of “everything sad coming untrue” speak courage to your heart? Why or why not?
If you have felt God’s presence in this Valley, how has He manifested that? If you haven’t felt His presence, would you consider asking Him to make Himself real to you today?
I’ll admit that sometimes future hope is not much to hold onto when sorrow and longing and despair overwhelm my heart. I need to feel Your Presence here and now. I’m not asking for a burning bush, but give me assurance that You have not abandoned me.
Fill my heart with hope and help me hold onto the promise that one day all this pain will be redeemed. Give me an eternal perspective.
I wrote this last year about this time but it suits me this year too.
So many big stressors combined with dozens of small ones have me begging God for relief. The end is not in sight but I DO know how the story ends.
If I can hold onto hope -which I manage to do most days-and make space for my heart on the days I just can’t, it will be alright.
Maybe not soon and certainly not in this lifetime. But it WILL be alright. ❤
Today is full of tears.
No real reason-other than the obvious one-but so many things coming together to remind me this life is hard, hard, hard.
I find on this side of burying Dominic that when two or three other stressful events pile one atop the other I crumble. Sometimes it’s other family members doing the best they can to muddle through and sometimes it’s physical pain or disappointment or the random “ya-ya” stuff of life in community with other people Whatever it is, the weight-in addition to grief-just absolutely overwhelms me.
The recent spate of apparent suicides connected to school shootings should be a wake up call.
Not that everyone who survives trauma may follow suit.
But every soul who survives trauma struggles-no matter what it looks like from the outside.
I became what I am today at the age of twelve, on a frigid overcast day in the winter of 1975…That was a long time ago but it’s wrong what they say about the past….Looking back now, I realize I have been peeking into that deserted alley for the last twenty-six years. ~ Khaled Hosseini, The Kite Runner
Witnessing or experiencing horror scars a heart. And society rarely does a good job making room for the kind of work it takes for that heart to even begin to heal.
Feel-good news stories about activism, heroism and turning tragedy into triumph send a signal that if you can’t “get over it“, “overcome” or “become stronger” in the wake of the most awful day of your life, you aren’t trying hard enough.
But the truth is that most people DO try.
They try and try and try but trying isn’t enough. Tragedy and trauma change a person and no matter how much they may want to go back to the “old” them, they just can’t.
And that is OK.
We must allow survivors to take as long as they take and to adjust their lives however they can. We need to stop insisting that there’s a time limit on grief or that there is an absolute upward trajectory in recovery.
I don’t know what drove these individuals to die by suicide.
But I do know that as a society we are not tolerant of people who don’t “deal” with their “issues” and live a life accepted as “normal”.
And that is not only unhelpful, it’s despicable.
No one has the right to shut down another person’s voice or circumscribe another heart’s journey.
We need to do better.
We have to create safe spaces for people to admit they are fundamentally and permanently changed by a traumatic experience.
We have got to make room for messy and unfinished stories.