There are a few things brewing that I would like to write about but God keeps bringing me back to this one. I gave Him a list of reasons why I didn't want to write about grief. However, this is what He has laid on my heart to write about. If you came here in need of encouragement, we'll get there. Sometimes you have to go through the darkness to get to the light!
Tomorrow it will be one year since my Grandma died. A lot has happened in that year. I've learned from the journey through grief that I've been on. She wasn't the first loss I had experienced in life, there have been others. I entered this journey with certain expectations based on past experiences as to how it would go. I found that this journey was much different. Perhaps that is the first lesson...each journey through grief is different.
My mother's parents died many years ago in a nursing home. After their funerals, I never had to return to their rooms in the nursing home where we had spent time together. However, Grammy died in her room at my cousin's house. I have had to return there many times since and it has been incredibly difficult. A few weeks after she passed, her room was freshly painted and my aunt moved her things into it. I spent hours in there sorting through Grammy's things because my aunt was too sick to do it. She had piles and piles of papers and cards. She must have saved everything her ten grandchildren had given her. I found a picture that I had drawn for her when I was nine! Instead of sitting in the room and visiting with Grammy, I was sitting in the room and visiting with my aunt. My heart ached each time I did it. I would go home and be unable to sleep at night after my visits because my mind would see Grammy in her final hours in her room. It took quite a few months for that to stop.
I had been there hours before she died and hours after. I wasn't planning on being there, but I had an urgency to check on my cousin and see if she needed anything as she cared for Grammy. I won't dismiss an urgency as easily as I might have before this. It was because of that urgency that I learned another very important lesson. Grief is an opportunity to be God's hands and feet. God brought me there to bring food, to hold cousins, to crack jokes, and to tell stories. God in His infinite wisdom knew that those things would knit our family closer together and open the door for a whole year's worth of witnessing opportunities.
Grief is a tool God can use to shape us if we let Him. We let Him by choosing to run to Him in our moments of grief instead of running away or trying to handle it on our own. He does a lot with very little material. He has taken a song on the radio that was difficult for me to hear or sing without crying, and has made it precious because it reminds me of where we've been together. As I drove home the night that Grammy died, the song 10,000 Reasons played on the radio. I believe that God wants us to praise Him when it's hard as well as when it's easy. When it's hard it's a sacrifice. That night it was hard as the words, "And on that day when my strength is failing, The end draws near and my time has come, Soon my soul will sing your praise un-ending. 10,000 years and there forever more. Bless the Lord oh my soul,Oh my soul,Worship His holy name. Sing like never before, Oh my soul, I worship Your holy name." played on the radio. I sang along that night. I sang loudly, off key, tears pouring down my face, but it was my sacrifice. I chose to run to Him and let Him comfort me. This is what I've been doing since and in thousands of little ways He has been my comfort.
I had my own time table in mind as to how long I thought my journey through grief would last. I have to confess I didn't expect to journey as long as I have. What I've learned is that it's just like any other journey God takes us on. You don't get to decide. He does. He has things He wants to work in us through our sorrow to completion. We will all have to journey through grief. Grief can take on many forms. Grief can be grieving the loss of a loved one or it can be grieving the loss of a dream. Maybe you are grieving the loss of a job or the loss of a relationship. Perhaps you are grieving poor decisions you or a loved one has made. Whatever it is, don't journey alone. Psalm 62:8 says, "Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us." Indeed He is!