“My eye has grown dim from vexation, and all my members are like a shadow.” Job 17:7
They say grief is personal. No one can tell you how you should grieve. Sure, there are phases that you face to one degree or another. And they are not linear. In fact, the phases are cyclical. It’s just not clean or tidy. Messy. Further, the intensity and duration of grief are intensely personal. You have to learn to assess how you are and respond.
So, again, it was with surprise—and disappointment—one day when I had my first reprieve from tears. As I have written, I had shed tears every day for almost seven months. A new, unprecedented experience in my life. Again, tears had become my friends. They rallied around me to help me process and face my loss. In other ways, they assaulted me every day whether I wanted them or not. Sometimes I planned for the attack. Other times I was blindsided. Tears just showed up.
“You have fed them with the bread of tears and given them tears to drink in full measure.” Psalm 80:5
But on this day, my tears did not knock on my door. I was surprised by their delay. Disappointed by their absence, their disappearance. Was something wrong? Was something right? I didn’t panic, but I was confused and wanted answers.
However, I learned my tears weren’t gone for good. It was just that the repetitive nature of my tearfulness was diminishing. At first, I simply skipped a day. I realized, as I stated earlier, I was emotionally taking a step toward acceptance, my illegal squatter. Previously, I had accepted this new unwanted journey in my mind. How could I deny it? I now realize emotional acceptance is deeper. It takes longer, and it has its own schedule. It took almost seven months of draining the grief to get to a step toward emotional acceptance. But when it came, I wasn’t really ready for it.
“We cannot but feel the pangs of grief—God will never blame us for our tears, but in our deepest afflictions our faith should not fail, and the songs of joy should not be choked.” J. R. Miller, The Ministry of Comfort
Honestly, the day the tears didn’t show up bothered me. I just wasn’t ready for it. Tears were new companions, now absent. Healing was on the horizon.
Grief brings strange companions. Pain. Loss. Tears. Healing. Recovery. Joy.
“That was always the way of grief: laughter and tears, joy and sorrow.” Sheldon Vanauken, A Severe Mercy
The day the tears didn’t show up was a mixed bag. It was sad. It was glad. It was confusing. But it came. I didn’t like that day. But I also liked that day. Hope. Recovery. Healing.
Pain and joy came together the day the tears didn’t show up, a simultaneous collision.
“…some of God’s truths are knocked into us by hard blows, and some lessons are spelled out through eyes cleansed with tears.” Theodore Cuyler, God’s Light on Dark Clouds
“Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing; heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled.” Psalm 6:2