Grief is Exhausting!

Grief is exhausting!

Today, I almost didn’t write (which would’ve been a first for me as I haven’t missed a day in all the years I’ve done this challenge). I’ve been hanging with youth at our synod youth gathering. Last nights action tracks (aka breakout sessions) were on heavy topics: mental health, suicide, addiction, etc. Because of my families story, I was asked to share and lead on the mental illness one. I was honored.

The room was quiet as they all listened so intently. They shared their own stories. They listened to mine. It was emotional. And to be honest, it was emotionally exhausting.

Grief does that, doesn’t it? Grief pulls and tugs at us. And grief isn’t always felt through death. It’s felt in the changing of relationships etc. But no matter how you put it, grief is exhausting.

So, my friends, I’m keeping it short today. See you back here tomorrow for Sunday Simplicity!

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I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. This is also Day 5 of the Write 31 Days challenge. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung over at our Five Minute Friday website. Today’s word prompt is “who.” We would love to have you join us.

Who is the one who weeps with us?

Who knows what it’s like to lose a friend?

Who loved us so much that he sent his son for us?

Who hears our prayers?

Who laments with us?

Jesus wept!

Jesus knows the pain of losing a friend.
Remember Lazarus!

God loved us so much. God sent God’s son for our sins.
An incredible act of love.

Jesus laments.
Even on the cross.
He cries out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

Jesus knows pain and suffering.

Mary grieved.
God grieved.
Lazarus siblings grieved.
Even Jesus grieved.

Throughout Scripture, there are so many stories of grief and loss.
One promise remains forever…Christ!
In our grief and loss, we are never alone.

Remember Jesus wept!

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The Price of Love

Grief is hard. It’s one of the most heart wrenching, gut wrenching things one experiences in life. Eventually that pain lessens just a little and it’s not quite as painful. But it’s always going to be there.

In fact, that’s the thing. It’s so hard to move on without the person we lost. Yet life moves on! Therefore, in the midst of grief, it’s especially important to look at our pictures, share our memories, etc. There’s something holy about hearing their voice or laugh. There’s something holy about clinging to those sweet memories that remind us of the love we shared together. There’s something holy about moving forward while also remembering the past.

The truth is grief is the price of love. I saw this quote on Facebook the other day and it captures grief so well. The quote said, “Grief never ends, but it changes. It’s a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith. It is the price of love.”

Indeed, grief is the price of love. We were gifted by the love of the ones we lost. And we are loved by God who promises to never leave us or forsake us. In fact, God loved us so much God sent God’s one and only son into the world for all of Gods beloved people. We are all blessed and loved by the cloud of witnesses God brings into our lives.

The price of love shapes us into new people who have been formed and shaped by the losses in our life. Like the Japanese art kintsugi, God lets the light shine through our brokenness. We are shaped and changed by our losses.

So, my friends, look at those photos of those you are missing. Share memories. Tell stories and remember them always. Because grief is the price of love and these memories/these photos help us to always remember who loved us.

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Lament=”to mourn aloud;” “to express sorrow, mourning, or regret for often demonstratively”; “to regret strongly.”

In the midst of our own grief, we often try to express ourselves through our emotions. Yet honestly I do not think we allow each other space to lament. It seems that we try to move way too quickly past our pain because it is so incredibly painful. Yet I think there is a gift in lamenting and allowing ourselves to be pieced back together in a new way.

The book of Lamentations is a book of lament. It is divided into five poems which are (1) a poem of lament, (2) A poem of many warnings, (3) A Poem of hope in God’s love, (4) A poem of Jerusalem, and (5) a prayer for mercy.

In reading a comment from my post yesterday (Thanks Steve), I learned that the book of Lamentations is written in the form of an acrostic poem. According to the SPARK Bible, “In Hebrew, most of Lamentations is written in the form of acrostic poems. In an acrostic, each line begins with a different letter, starting with the first and going through the all 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. Chapter 5 is the only chapter not written as an acrostic (SPARK Bible, P. 894).”

It seems to me that in our lament, we are able to turn to hope. We are able to trust in God’s promises for all of God’s beloved children. I cannot help but think of these words from Chapter 3. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is thy faithfulness.”–Lamentations 3:22-23 (NRSV)

Great is thy faithfulness indeed! God reminds us again and again that God will never leave us or forsake us. God gives us glimmers of hope in the midst of our mourning and grieving. God is the one who knows our very hearts; our very aches. God is a faithful God who walks with us through all of life’s joys and especially sorrows.

“God’s loyal love couldn’t have run out, his merciful love couldn’t have dried up. They’re created new every morning.How great your faithfulness! I’m sticking with God (I say it over and over). He’s all I’ve got left.”–Lamentations 3:22-23 (The Message Translation)

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For Each Other!

This picture took place seven months ago as we said goodbye to our dear Ben. And every time I look at this picture and remember that day, it still gives me chills. It was a powerful moment that is hard to put into words (yet I try) but was captured by the lens of a phone camera.

Most of the faces are hard to see because we were praying and commending our friend to God’s care. My friend Bryant; Ben’s best friend has his hand on Ben’s urn. Our seminary professor who led the commendation is standing near Bryant. To my left is Ben’s wife Mara who is holding their daughter Elizabeth. There are so many friends and family who are standing in that circle. A cloud of witnesses all linked back to our beloved Ben.

Tears kept falling from my face as we said goodbye. I remember looking around the sanctuary and seeing others tears falling too. I knew that this grief was not being held alone. But I also was trying to be so strong. In fact, my friend Carrie turned to me at one point and said, “You’re being so strong.” I looked at her and simply said, “Im trying.” I knew that I needed to be strong for Mara, for Elizabeth, for Ben’s parents,  for Ben’s siblings, for all those that loved Ben. It was not easy, but somehow God surrounded me and gave me the strength I needed that day.

After the funeral, we headed over to a local brewery/bar that opened up just for us. In that brewery, the table was set and the wine was poured as we communed together. Voices raised as we sang some of Ben’s favorite hymns–beer and hymns; a fitting tribute for our friend. I can still hear that moving rendition of Canticle of the Turning permeating the air. Stories were shared as we remembered our friend.

In the midst of our grief, laughter and joy found their way to the surface. “Weeping may come for the night, but joy comes with the morning (Psalm 30:5).”

In that brewery, I was surrounded by many friends, but also some acquaintances. But I left that brewery that afternoon knowing these people were all now my friends too because together we loved and were loved by our friend. Together, we had held one another in our grief. Together, we had celebrated Ben’s life. Together, we will continue to share stories of Ben with his daughter. We will make sure she knows who her dad is and how much he loved her and her mom.

If grief has taught me anything, it is that grief is never meant to be done alone. It is meant to be shared together. When grief causes me to doubt, others believe for me until I can believe for myself again. When grief prevents me from turning to God and praying because I can’t find the words, others pray for me. And when I can’t sing because the grief is too deep, others sing for me until I can find my voice again.

And for that, I’m so grateful! Because when Elizabeth starts Kindergarten, we will need to be there for Mara as she walks into that school alone. There will be so many times when we will need to believe, pray and sing for each other when grief rears its head in the midst of life’s joys and sorrows.

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Linking up with Kelly and the Ra Ra linkup, Mary and Tell His Story, Holley and Coffee for your Heart and Kristin and Porch Stories. 



At a Loss for Words

Sometimes you sit down to write and the words just don’t seem to come. Sometimes you find yourself sitting at the computer desk praying that the well will finally open and the words will spill forth. Grief is a lot like that too, isn’t it? There are times I want to talk about the one that I have lost. There are other times that the reminders of them is just too much. And yet other times when all you want to do is let the tears fall.

A dear friend shared the other day how about 3 pm in the afternoon, her body seems to take over and things just don’t quite work right. 3 pm is the time that her husband was killed in the car accident. The truth is that our physical pain and our emotional pain are inextricably linked together. Our physical and emotional pain are a reminder of our own humanity just like Christ experienced his own humanity on the cross too.

As you know, I am writing about my own grief. It is amazing to me that I have lost ten individuals in the last year. Most of them unexpected deaths. It is all so much…all too much! And I find myself sitting here typing away, hoping and praying that my words will bless others. But also hoping and praying that these words will also be a healing balm to my soul. There is something so incredibly holy about sharing these beloved souls with you. Something so holy about remembering who and whose they are. Yet there are so many times that I am at a loss for words.

I also know that it is good to talk about it with a trained counselor too. I haven’t always been so good about talking with professionals about stuff like this…but I am moving forward and finally feel comfortable doing that. So my friends, if you are grieving, know that is totally ok to talk to a professional. In fact, I believe God wants us to talk to others. God does not want us to grieve alone and is why God surrounds us with community. Community that walks hand and hand with one another especially when we do not know what to say.

So, my friends, in the words of Psalm 30; verse five, know that “Weeping may come for the night, but joy, joy comes with the morning.”

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Finding Peace in an Unlikely Place

It’s that time of the year when scary movies come to our television and move screens. During those movies, cemeteries often become a place of fear. Yet that’s not what a cemetery is at all.

Have you ever taken the time to walk through a cemetery reading the headstones? I remember a story one of former colleagues told me one time. He took his junior high age daughter to a cemetery and told her to read the headstones. After awhile, he asked, “What did you notice?” She had found her favorite aunts headstone. She replied, “They were moms, dads, etc. To which this colleague replied, “Exactly. Cemeteries are not scary places filled with ghouls, goblins, etc. Its a place where someone’s grandma, grandpa, aunt, uncle, mom, dad, brother, sister, etc are resting. It’s a holy place.”

Cemeteries are indeed holy places. They bring about a sense of peace knowing our loved one is resting peacefully and is united with Jesus. Just the other day, my family friend Jim’s daughter Madison shared how she didn’t know that a cemetery would give her so much peace. But it’s where she most feels her dads presence.

Cemeteries are incredibly beautiful. Think of the stories they can tell. I will always remember standing at Jims burial and turning and seeing Rachel’s grave next to his. Two beautiful beloved children of God. It was a poignant moment; a reminder of God’s great love for God’s people.

I also remember standing and watching as my Grandpa Sam’s urn was buried at the feet of his mom and dad. Then several years later, Grandma Bess being buried next to all of them. A lot of love is held in that one grave.

So if you have lost someone, it’s totally ok to sit and chat with them. It’s ok to sit at the cemetery to feel peace and love. Because I promise, cemeteries are filled with so much love. It’s truly a holy place.

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Praising God in the Storms

I am linking up for the Five Minute Friday. This is also Day 5 of the Write 31 Days challenge. The FMF is hosted by Kate Motaung over at our Five Minute Friday website. Today’s word prompt is “praise.” We would love to have you join us.

How does one praise God in the midst of loss and grief?

The truth is that it is difficult to praise God when we want our friends and loved ones on this side of heaven with us. But what I’ve learned is that God often finds a way to show us hope so we can praise him.

Songs sung and lifted to God in a brewery in Wisconsin. A special Beer and Hymns for our beloved Ben. A fitting tribute for a man who loved music.

Grandkids singing Jesus Loves Me as they say goodbye to their beloved Grandpa.

I’m reminded of one of my fave Scriptures Psalm 30:5 “Weeping may come for the night, but joy comes with the morning.” Joy that gives us the strength to praise God even in the most difficult times.

Praising God isn’t always easy. But God surrounds us with community to praise for us when we can’t praise for ourselves.

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