26 Sep Grief: Walking Forward with Hope
I can honestly, and maybe strangely say, grief is a topic near to my heart. My classroom has been walking through the trenches, crying buckets, feeling anxious, feeling fearful, despairing of life, feeling mad at God, putting one step in front of the other, experiencing trial after trial, falling apart, and finding Jesus in it.
I feel like I have grieved since I was young. And in some ways I have.
My mom had a disability that progressed during my growing up years and she died of cancer when I was a teenager. The affect of her death and her absence has been formative.
Eight years ago my heart grew in love the day my firstborn son Jeremiah was born. Someone recently described the way their heart enlarged with the birth of each of their children. What powerful wording to describe what God does in our hearts when a new person or passion enters our lives!
The powerful love and feeling for my son was accompanied, within hours of his birth, by the shock and pain of hearing he had Down syndrome. Over the days, weeks, and years has followed diagnoses of heart defects, respiratory problems, severe developmental delays, and more.
The diagnosis of leukemia when he was four years old rocked our world. Down syndrome was no longer devastating. Cancer was. There are no words to fully describe the 3+ years that followed.
Thankfully he finished chemotherapy last summer. Seven months ago, when the port was taken out of his chest, marked the return to a “somewhat normal” life.
When Jeremiah was ill I wanted “normal.” The ability to take care of all my children under one roof when they had a cold instead of one being in the hospital. Getting to go to family get togethers and church as a family. Wanting Jeremiah to eat without feeling miserable or vomiting. These types of cancer losses can make everyday feel like never ending losses. I cherish the sacredness of normal. And I feel my heart letting down as we get to experience more normal now.
Two months ago my heart was rocked again when we learned Jeremiah’s heart defects, which we have been waiting to fix due to the cancer treatment, could not be fixed relatively “simply” in the cath lab. One of them can only be fixed with open heart surgery.
I fell apart at the thought of my son, who has been through so much pain and suffering, possibly having his chest cut open.
The heart surgery is on hold at this point and he has surgery scheduled for sleep apnea in four weeks. Over the summer I was also deeply grieving due to the 20 year anniversary of my mom’s death.
I am thankful for healing in my heart over the last two months which has gone into deep recesses of my heart. I appreciate our post chemo life. But in a blink of an eye tears or anxiety besieges me. Past pain intermingling with current situations and my God desiring to bring healing.
This is where I want to stop and look in your eyes and speak to you, friend. I speak as a fellow traveler. Not one who is giving you advice when the struggle is fully behind me.
You can get through
I say this as a woman and a momma who has felt like I cannot get through one more moment of emotional pain. Let your Savior Jesus carry you. If you don’t know Jesus as your Savior he wants you to receive Him as Savior so He can be the payment for your sins. But He also wants to be your Comforter. He is a good Comforter.
Ask your hard questions
Ask Jesus whatever questions you have. Seriously he can handle it. If you need to yell at him, do it. He knows you intimately and wants you to draw near to Him in a real way. He can turn your brokenness into wholeness.
Get your feelings out
Journal, talk to friends, talk to a pastor, get a counselor, pray (cry out to God), etc. Don’t keep your feelings in. It may take much more of this than you realize. I have all sorts of moments when I feel like I “should” be done grieving something.
He cares about each and every tear in the seemingly endless ocean of tears. When you have cried so much and realize there are hurts you have barely scratched the surface of Jesus understands and will hold you.
Read the Bible
This one has come to mean so much in the last year. I have learned how to read the Bible and let it change me. I am not trying to make it happen. I read. God ministers to my heart.
His Living Word brings strength, hope, and more. When you really don’t feel like reading it? Read it then! You need help? Read a psalm and proverb daily. Pick a book of the New Testament and read it daily no matter how you feel. My heart has changed and I have found eternal treasures.
Blessings, friend, as you journey through grief.