Monday, April 22

Manna Monday: Moving Forward from Grief

                           Moving Forward from Grief

How do you know when you are moving forward in the grieving process? How do you know you are getting better? That you are healing?  

As an American, I want a fast grief fix. A drive through relief. But this is not the way grief works. Every strain of sorrow has an intended purpose in the tapestry of our lives. Some of us let God comfort us. Some of us stuff our grief away and never really get through it. It is possible to move forward out of grief. It is possible to begin to enjoy life again without the presence of your loved one. I never thought it was possible, but it is.  Here are a few things that I have reflected on during my grieving process that has helped me to know if I was moving forward in the grieving process. And I am. Slowly, but surely, I am moving forward.

Moving Forward Means Doing the Hard Work
     Thankfully, the tears aren't flowing as often as they used to. I am getting back into life and into a routine again. One thing I have learned is that to get better, you have to let yourself heal and do the hard work to get better. To move forward through grief and not get stuck in "why", bitterness or depression,  you have to do the work. You can't go around it. You can't go under or over it. You can't silence it with busyness because grief will always come bubbling back up to the surface if you haven't truly gotten through it. You have to go through it. To go into the storm and walk each step and get to the other side. Getting to the other side for me has been being a part of a local Griefshare group exclusively for women at my church. Doing the work has meant I show up at every meeting, I participate, I do the homework during the week and I grieve. The workbook has brought things to light that I would have overlooked on my own. It has helped me be more a tune to connecting my tears to the new losses that happen over a period of time (there are lots of little losses a person feels over and over after they lose a loved one). 

The greatest loss I have experienced has not only been the day of the funeral.  Believe me, that was a hard day. But it is not the hardest day. It is the days, weeks, and months after the funeral when the reality sets in that your loved one is never coming back on this earth. Even as a believer when you know you will see your loved one again, the reality is, they will not be coming back to your present life now. And that's hard to get used to when they have always been a big part of your daily life. It is the reality that you will never get to hug or call them. That you will never get to hear their voice again this side of heaven. That's a hard truth to swallow. For me, doing the hard work has meant to give myself a focused time to consider these questions and do this work. Looking back through the first week and the 13th week in my workbook, I see myself changing, my words becoming softer and more at peace.  I see myself healing. And that is a good feeling. I don't know where I would have been if I had gone through all these feelings on my own and not with a group. 

    Moving Forward Means Listening for God to Speak
     As I look back on the cancer journey God allowed my family to go through, I see scripture sprinkled down the path. Each one holding me up, encouraging me, and reminding me that God was with me. From the day my daddy entered the hospital to even now, God is still speaking to me specifically through scripture. This journey through cancer that God allowed our family to journey was already planned before time. God WAS in the beginning, and IN the beginning He knew the days of my sweet daddy's life (Psalm 139) The hours, minutes and last seconds. He knew them all. His sovereignty has reigned through it all even at times when I didn't feel like He was reigning. He was!!!  Genesis 1:1 tells us, "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."  Seems like a boring verse to us in the church because we all know it.  But we overlook it. Everything as a follower of Christ rests on this one verse. Creator God, was, is and will always BE. Recently, Genesis 1:1 kept showing up to me in various ways. It was obvious God was speaking to me through His written word. Repetition is one of the ways God has spoken to me through my devotion times with Him. And this verse came up three times in one day. And even recently since then. 

As I meditated and prayed over Genesis 1:1, I asked the LORD what He was trying to tell me, it became clear to me that He was letting me know that I was moving forward in the grieving process. That I was adjusting to the new life, the new beginning without my daddy. Part of that truth made me sad, because I felt like I was leaving my daddy behind and moving forward, and part of me rejoiced because I could tell that I was healing. That I was moving forward.

Just this past week, a new beginning was seen in a rose bush a dear friend sent to me the day my daddy died. It bloomed. For months (Six months almost to the day of my daddy's funeral), I have been looking for this bush to bring forth a bloom. To show a sign of new life. And it did. What a sweet reminder it was to me when I first saw it last week and also that God makes all things new. That life here on earth goes on. That seasons still change. I am by far better than I was that cold November day when I said goodbye to my dear sweet daddy. How I thank the LORD for being my comfort. My JOY! 

Moving Forward Means Living Life and Serving Others
One of the best, and the hardest, ways to move forward through grief is to keep living life and serve others. To keep moving and trying to do the hard things that you don't feel like doing keeps you from getting stuck. Serving others helps to take the focus off of yourself and see there are so many needs around you. God has a purpose for our lives even without the presence of our loved one.

Moving forward has meant that I have made myself go back to the places that I had not been since my daddy died. Some of these have been bittersweet, because when I went back to them, it also made me sad. But going to these places has also helped me not to avoid them like I felt like avoiding them. There are still a few places that I have not been that I went with my daddy in his last months, but I will get to them. One at a time. 

It's a good thing to see myself moving forward out that dark place. Out of such raw pain and depths of emotions. It's a good thing to know my God now in a deeper way than I have ever known Him. It's a good thing that I now know how to encourage someone who is beginning to step into the waters of grief to say to them, "Hold on to Jesus, He will rescue you and comfort you. Just hold on!"

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