Our culture does not discuss grief. In fact, we do just about everything we can to avoid it. We don’t know what to say to someone experiencing it and few of us know what to do once we find ourselves in its powerful grasp. Grief is one of the great equalizers. We all must endure it.
I found out yesterday that a friend of mine passed away very suddenly. All grief is so very difficult but those unexpected loses do not give loved ones a chance to brace for impact. It blindsides you. It leaves you disoriented and reeling from the pain.
I met my friend last fall when she came to the Grief Share program at my church. She was drowning in grief but accompanied by her even keeled, ever doting husband. She was raw and honest about what she had endured. I instantly liked her and simultaneously felt great compassion for her situation. Even in the midst of her grief she was a person who filled the room. When she laughed you couldn’t help but light up inside. When she cried you couldn’t help but cry with her. She just drew you in. Her death comes as a great shock and my heart breaks for her husband and sons.
During the 13 weeks I had the privilege of getting to know her we shared very intimate details about our lives and our emotions. Our losses were different but the essence of our grief was the same. For a brief time we walked the same path on our journey. Her family now begins the walk all over after having already endured one other tragic, sudden, and unexpected loss. The grief they carry is too much to fathom.
One night during a Grief Share meeting I was able to share this with her and the group. It seems appropriate to share it again today. At the time of sharing it I wanted to lend hope to a room filled with people who had lost so much. Truly, when we lose that which matters the most often hope is the only thing keeping us afloat. It is all we have left but it is all we need to begin.
This morning when I left Charlottesville it was cloudy, windy, and raining but I was driving over the mountain to run some errands. I know that often when I get to the other side the weather is quite different. So, in spite of what it looked like where I was standing, I grabbed my sunglasses expectant to find something else entirely when I arrived. True to hope, as I reached the apex and started to descend the sun forced its way out and was shining mightily as if to show off its victory. If my life means anything, if I can impart anything to my children, if I can change my little corner may this picture be my deceleration.
There will be times in life when it is dark and cold where you stand. The mountain looms in the distance and you can’t be sure of what is on the other side. For a while you might pace at the bottom. You will stop and glance up overwhelmed by the task at hand. You may even lay down and wait for the strength for one more step. But you will stand back up. You scale the mountain and eventually joyful anticipation settles in with you. The journey will be challenging but there are streams and deer. There are flowers and birds. The sun will rise and the sun will set, sometimes with a glorious displays of hues and sometimes hidden. There will always be something for which to be grateful, even if it is that you draw breath. On the other side of the mountain is more than you could have ever imagined. Colors are more vibrant. Love is deeper. Your faith assured. You, like the sun, will shine magnificently in your glory.
When I shared this with you I thought your mountain was like mine once was, grief. Re-reading this today I know you are on the other side and it is more than you ever imagined. Your smile and laughter will always accompany me. Shine on, dear friend. Shine on magnificently in His Glory.