I was on Facebook today and read a friend’s post. It was about her dad and how much the grief still hurts after so many years. I wanted to respond to her. I wanted to say something like ‘I know’ or ‘it doesn’t matter how long, it always sucks’. But I couldn’t. I couldn’t even bring myself to put in my standard two-or-three heart emojis that say I care. I was overcome with my own grief for my own dad.
Grief never goes away. When we were sitting in palliative care with my dad, a nurse who had just been through the same thing looked at me and said something like ‘this is going to be really hard for a while, but it will get easier.’. Easier. Easier? I wondered what she meant by easier. I still do. Especially when I’m driving and have a memory that forces me to pull over. Or hearing my kids say ‘I miss Papa’ and I have to stop what I’m doing because my heart breaks for them. Or not even being able to reach out to someone who has suffered loss because it hurts too much.
How long must I struggle with
anguish in my soul,
with sorrow in my heart every day?
How long before it gets easier? I’ve been through the dreadful ‘first year’ filled with empty milestones. I’ve accepted all the things you’re supposed to accept. I can even try imagining what Heaven must be like for him. But there is still that sorrow; the emptiness as if there is a distinct piece of me missing. Knowing he was sick doesn’t make it easier. Having time to prepare doesn’t make it easier. Imagining him rejoicing in heaven doesn’t make it easier.
Do you remember being a kid and throwing rocks into the river? The bigger the rock, the more fantastic the splash right? I see grief as one of those great big rocks (the ones that you can barely lift on your own). It splashes down to the riverbed just like all the other rocks do, consumed by the beauty of the river, but it never goes away. Sure, eventually gets washed to a different spot, or even the ocean. But the rock never goes away. We see that momentary splash – talk about it to our friends even. The river swallows the huge stone as it settles in and makes its new home in the water. The river continues on, moving around the stone, displacing it, working on eroding it for the rest of time. But the stone never goes away. Even through erosion, it simply changes form.
I am that river, and grief is the stone. Our connection to the person determines the size of the stone. We absorb the pain, the sorrow, the loss. We change how we view it over the years. But it never goes away.
But I will trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me. (Psalms 13:5-6)
David finishes Psalm 13 with “But I will trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the Lord because he is good to me.” (Psalms 13:5-6). This isn’t a suggestion to suck it up and move on; it is a reminder that even though we have no control and become consumed with what is surrounding us (in my case the enemy here is grief), God is good. Sing to the Lord. Trust that His love will never fail you. His love will wrap us up and suffer through the grief with us just as affected as we are. The pain will never go away, but God can change how we view it.