I have experienced a sizable amount of grief from the loss of both my parents. I know that traveling through the valley of pain and grief can be one of the hardest parts of this life. That knowledge inspired me to jot down some of the lessons that I’ve learned from walking through that valley.
1. Grief is Like a Backpack
I think it helps to think of grief like a backpack. In my experience, it weighs me down and can wear me out if I try to do too much while I carry it. It’s really important to remember that grief is something you carry and not something that carries you.
After both of the times I lost a parent, I remember feeling very insecure around other people. I wondered if they could tell I was struggling or maybe see the pain in how I acted. This made me try to shove down the pain and grief that I felt.
I don’t think shoving down grief is a good idea because it will eventually expresses itself one way or another. From what I’ve seen the longer we shove it down, the more powerful it becomes and the more it affects us. That’s why I suggest carrying around grief like a backpack and actively acknowledging that it weighs us down to some degree.
Ignoring the problem will cause the pain and grief to affect us in ways that we don’t realize and then grief can slowly take over parts of our life.
I felt much more freedom and peace when I acknowledged that I was hurting and that I didn’t have to feel insecure about that. I still felt the grief and pain, but I didn’t feel the constant need to cover them up or make sure they didn’t affect me. Recognizing that all of us carry around past wounds and pains will help in being open about your grief.
2. A Little Normalcy Goes a Long Way
I also think it’s important to set our backpacks down every once and a while. This actually doesn’t mean we should take-up a new solo hobby or habit that distracts us. This means we should spend time around other Christians who aren’t experiencing a similar kind of grief or trial.
This is important because we need a reminder that darkness doesn’t cover everything. Loss and pain are powerful forces and they can cast a shadow over everything in our lives. It’s important to find ways to let God’s light break through that shadow.
I think friends who are fellow believers really help on this front because they have Christ in them and God will use them to reflect that light to you. This time together doesn’t have to be spent talking about how you’re dealing with loss and grief. I think time spent doing something normal with a fellow believer can allow us to set our grief down for a bit and give us some much needed rest from the weight of grief.
3. For Christians, Death is a Lie
O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting? 1 Corinthians 15:55
It really helped me when I realized that death is a lie. Death tells us that eventually separation beats out love. It tries to convince us that we will never get back the love we have lost.
Don’t listen to this silliness. Death is the consequence of sin and Jesus already overcame the power of sin. He made it very clear that He is stronger.
Seek the God who is stronger than Death and He will meet you in your pain. I’ve known the feelings of despair that come with loss and the feeling that nothing can lift off the weight of grief. I’ve also known the victory of Christ’s love over my pain.
That same love is available to all of us today.
I think that God’s love can provide more than we could ever imagine. At the end of the day, everything comes down to whether we trust in God and his love. If you slow down and open your heart to Him, He will meet you in your pain and heartache.
4. You’re Not Alone in the Foxhole
It is quite easy to lose sight of God in all the turmoil of losing a loved one. Experiencing grief can feel like sitting in a foxhole while under mortar fire. There’s so much confusion and destruction you feel like your heart and mind will never be able to really process everything that’s going on.
The real problem with this situation is that we think we sit in the foxhole alone.
It’s incredibly easy to think that because God doesn’t swoop in and take our pain away he doesn’t care about the fact that we’re hurt and struggling. In the past, I thought God took away my parents because He just wanted to toughen me up. Even though I’ve really grown through those experiences, that growth didn’t come from buying into that ridiculous assumption.
My best times of spiritual growth came when I stopped thinking God wanted to toughen me up and started believing that He wants to walk the path of loss with me. The truth that God is personally interested in my heartache has slowly but surely flipped my world upside down. Knowing that the God of the universe sits in that foxhole with me and has my back gives me peace even when everything is falling apart.
I still carry heartache and wounds from my past in my backpack of grief, but I know that God walks with me and that makes all the difference in the world.
5. A Unique Problem with a Common Answer
Every person’s loss is different and everyone deals with a unique kind of grief. We all have personal questions for God and that can make navigating loss very difficult. Thankfully, God has the same amazing answer for all of us.
In the book of Psalms, David transitions quickly from exulting in God’s deliverance to crying for His help. Even though the context of these Psalms may differ, they all share a similar assumption. They all assume that God cares about the personal and intimate details of David’s life.
God didn’t have David write those Psalms so we could all know how much he cared about David. He put them in the Bible so we can understand how much he cares about us. Right Now.
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