When Grief Comes Back Around

Deep calls to deep in the roar of Your waterfalls; all Your breakers and Your billows have swept over me.
~ Pslam 42:7 ~

Grief is a funny thing…it’s not linear but wild and untame. It ebbs and flows sometimes like violent, crashing waves beating you back and forth. Other times like a soft gentle wave that lifts you up gently floating you on top of the water. And yet, sometimes like a calm sea where only peace exists. It may leave you for a while, but always then without invitation shows back up on your doorstep with your heart in its hand, reminding you of all you lost. Grief will take every ounce of life you give it. Death will try to steal the very best of who you are. 

Life here in Switzerland so far this year has been the healing balm I prayed in the silent, dead of night. My eyes have witnessed small and wonderful miracles, and I can feel the Lord slowly stitching my heart back together with each passing day. Honestly the difference between this year and last so far has been a stark contrast between the dead, darkness of night and the new brightness of the dawn. 

But when my heart settles and rests in the quiet stillness of the morning or when the sun sleeps and the stars awake, I am reminded of just how shallowly healed these scars are from the losses of last year. Grief seems to always come back around, teaching me just how much the make up of my heart has been forever changed. 

So far this year, my biggest lesson has been how to become friends with grief. She is not so oppressive anymore, keeping me on the floor or wondering how I will ever get out of bed. But she is there nonetheless, like someone who follows me around reminding me when I see that flower, that she would have loved it too or when that child laughs, she will never hold my babies (if I one day have them). Most days I long to just feel her cool, delicate hand pat my check. It’s becoming harder to recall her smell, voice, what it felt like to hold her hand. For a second I can hold on to the memory, but it always departs before I am ready for it to and then all that’s left is the cold emptiness of the spaces she used to occupy. A hollow reminder that she is no longer here with me and will never be again. There is so much I wish I could tell her. But in a sad yet beautiful way I still carry her, and all the ones I have lost, with me. They make up the tight weavings of the fabric of my soul.

I am learning as life marches forward without her, how to befriend this hollowness, this grief. How to honor it in the moment. How to sit with it, even when months later things still don’t make sense. How to embrace the friend I never really wanted, but now have. The landscape of my experience has changed my soul. I cannot explain to you the ways watching someone you love die before your very eyes weaves itself into your being, changing the structure of your heart forever. My grandmother’s death was a tragic and painful one for us all, filled with little dignity. If you have ever experienced this..then oh my friend you know that deep pain. 

Love is risky; the price we pay to feel it costs us who we are. We have to give a part of ourselves away to the object of our affection. That is the contractual agreement. It would mean nothing if it wasn’t worth losing. But in giving a piece of our souls to someone else, that means when they go they take that piece with them. Violently ripping away what is rightfully theirs from the fabric of our hearts. 

But through all of this tearing and chaos, I have begun to learn what it looks like to worship and be with God in the great mysteries of this life. I have come to know deep within my soul that despite the great heartaches and sufferings this life brings, God is here and He is good, even if in the moment when I am on the floor my heart just can’t quite believe it. 

I’ve fought the darkness for much of last year, and it has left so many holes in my heart. But despite the days I couldn’t get out of bed and wondered if the light would ever return, my heart still beats in my chest. In these shallowly healed scars, I am reminded that I am alive, that God’s life breath still expands my lungs. He is still here, still good, and love still exists. That I am still a granddaughter, a lover, and a friend. And despite my immense losses those things can never be taken from me. I have been privileged to experience real and deep love that spans countries, cultures, and generations. I have not lived a normal or small life. I matter and those I have lost still do too. 

I will never be the same person I was a year ago. The holes left still some days feel like deep caverns. I wondered in the beginning if they would ever heal. But as my soul has expanded and began to absorb these losses, I have found that hope and light are remarkably resilient. They refuse to let go and find a way to seep through any hole and crack they can find. Joy has been ever present stubbornly trying to push its way through in all the chaos of this last year. And it is starting to win again, showing me deep joy can and will survive the darkness.

In the last few months I have begun to feel the open wounds of  my heart slowly heal, answering a prayer I whispered for what felt like eternity. And as He has begun to stitch those holes together, laced with His soft grace, I have only begun to realize how much my roots have grown and are still growing since that hard and painful year. And though some days when grief comes back around it still feels as if my heart will collapse in on itself, I have learned that with the Lord, I can survive hard things…even something as unspeakable as death. So as this wild wind of grief continues to blow all around me, I know I will not blow over. My roots are too strong now…and for this I thank my savior and my God. May my roots always be in the One in which we live, and move, and have our being (Acts 17:28). For He is good in life and in death..yesterday, now, and forever. 

Kuc obed Kedi sweet friends. May you hold fast to our Savior in whatever it is you are going through. Even if you emerge broken, may you be profoundly different on the other side. And may we always remember that God is still here and He is still good, even if we can’t believe in this present moment.

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