I was on a call with a new grief traveler, Pat, a few weeks ago. His wife died suddenly about six weeks before our ninety-minute call. Now almost four years down the road, I have perspective and insight that I did not have at the time of Kim’s passing. I told Pat that I know how strange this may sound but that he should learn to enjoy the pain. Press into pain. I told him not to rush the healing. One of my favorite things about grief is that you learn a lot. And enduring—even enjoying—the pain is one of those favorite things about grief.
This is all going to sound crazy, I know. But I have been thinking how there are some favorite things about grief. I know. It sounds strange to say.
In my journey’s rearview mirror, I have a few favorite things about grief to share with you.
Deep lessons of faith are available for the learning when you face loss.
Back to my advice to Pat. I learned on my journey that grief must be respected. As a believer in Christ, I know grief is or will be overwhelmed by grace, mercy, peace, love, hope, and comfort. It will be overturned and defeated because death is routed and vanquished. However, it must not be ignored or diminished in the here-and-now, the temporal. Therefore, grief must not be rushed, and it must be respected. It must be faced. The title of my blogsite, Facing Loss, is aptly titled because it communicates one of the most important lessons—or favorite things—I learned. Loss must be faced and endured. Even enjoyed, might I say? Probably too far. It’s a terrible ride with lots of lessons, blessings, and hope along the way.
Unhindered hope really is available on unwanted journeys.
Another of my favorite things about grief is the overwhelming hope that rises to meet the waves of grief. Don’t get me wrong, it takes a while. Grief is like an amputation, and there’s real healing that must take place. But grief also requires the openness to heal. Friends of mine told about a woman who was grieving the death of her husband over fifteen years ago! I immediately blurted out, “She doesn’t want to heal!” You have to want to heal.
You have to open your eyes to the hope in the Word, in music, prayer, and through friends and supporters. Through hope in Christ. Those gifts have become a few of my favorite things. But you have to turn to God and trust him on the journey.
You must face the difficult journey with hope. The subtitle of my blog site, Lessons of Hope from My Unwanted Journey, represents a powerful lesson I have learned.
Other grief journeyers have authored their stories or lessons to help you.
Another of my favorite things about grief has been the authors I have met in the more than fifty books I’ve read. They have been fellow travelers. I commend the discipline of reading from experts on grief and other grief journeyers in addition to reading The Bible, especially The Psalms.
So, I share a brief excerpt of a few important and impactful quotes from a few of the authors I read:
“…circumstances play a limited role in the Christian life, providing little more than the context—scene and setting—for God’s redemptive work.” Jerry Sittser, A Grace Revealed: How God Redeems the Story of Your Life
“Lament is the honest cry of a hurting heart wrestling with the paradox of pain and the promise of God’s goodness.” Mark Vroegop, Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy
“…every trouble that comes to us is really a trust, something committed to us to be accepted by us, used as a gift of God and then accounted for.” J. R. Miller, The Ministry of Comfort
“In circumstances for which there is no final answer in the world, we have two choices: accept them as God’s wise and loving choice for our blessing (this is called faith), or resent them as proof of his indifference, his carelessness, even his nonexistence (this is unbelief).” Elizabeth Elliot, The Path of Loneliness
“The bitter cups we try to push away contained the medicines we most needed.” Theodore Cuyler, God’s Light on Dark Clouds
“God makes many promises, and the best of them are for our worst times.” Tim Challies, Seasons of Sorrow
“Suffering…pushes us deeper into the mystery of God. It makes us more desperate for him, to hear from him and sense his presence.” Nancy Guthrie, Be Still My Soul
“There is no sin in complaining to God, but much wickedness in complaining of him.” John Flavel, Facing Grief
“…the truth is the afflictions of God’s people come from the same eternal love that Jesus Christ did come from.” Jeremiah Burroughs, The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment
I could go on but know that a favorite part of grief is the healing that has come through men and women who went before me on this journey. Authors such as Jerry Sittser, Mark Vroegop, J. R. Miller, Elizabeth Elliot, Theodore Cuyler, Tim Challies, Nancy Guthrie, John Flavel, and Jeremiah Burroughs have been my counselors. And many more.
These are a few of my favorite things about grief. Receiving insight and compulsion to press into and face grief is a life-giving gift with many lessons. Another gift of grief is the onslaught of ministry through the Word, music, prayer, and through friends and supporters. Priceless gifts resulting in hope! And then the gift of other grief experts and grief journeyers provide lessons of hope poured out. These authors remind you that you are not alone in this journey.
These are a few of my favorite things…about grief.