If it’s true that grief leaves you with a limp, then we must have been quite a disabled crew. Each Monday for thirteen weeks, we trudged in from the cold to pray, listen, and process the reality of our unique losses, ranging from the natural (and still devastating) loss of mothers and fathers, to the tragic and sudden loss of young life. But if you had peeked in the window at 401 Upchurch St. those evenings, you wouldn’t have only seen tears.
Often in fact, especially as the weeks went on, you’d have seen chuckles while chatting over Panera pastries, gentle encouragements from one fellow griever to another, and pats on the back to the one who survived one of their “firsts”—maybe the first anniversary of their loved one’s death or even the first time going out to Sunday lunch without him.
I’ve been living with loss for about 19 years now, after losing my older sister suddenly when I was almost 13. Grief has followed me through my high school and college years, it caused me to shed tears around my wedding day, my children’s birthdays, and many other milestones along the way. You could say in some ways I’m an expert in grief, having lived with it most of my life.
And yet, GriefShare brought much comfort and healing to me; more powerfully than I had experienced before. It helped connect my own personal grief to the grief that the God of the Scriptures both describes and understands with such raw honesty—and then brings specific and powerful healing.
“Be merciful to me, Lord, for I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief. My life is consumed by anguish and my years with groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak.” (Psalm 31:9-10 NIV)
Grief has a way of making us feel exposed and vulnerable. In our GriefShare meetings, you could feel the relief we all felt with the realization that each of us were feeling that same way. For those who were accustomed to feeling lonely in a room full of people because of their grief, our meetings became a place where we felt embraced, understood, and free to be honest.
Most of all, the Scriptures freed us to learn how to cry out to God in our distress, to express our deep pain not just to each other, but to Him. God is not afraid to hear our most honest and painful cries! “How long, O Lord? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? (Psalm 13:1-2). Weekly we were reminded that not only could we cry out in our distress, but we could wait for God to heal us in His own timing….”I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in His word I put my hope” (Psalm 130:5 NIV).
And though His timing might not be what we would have chosen, He had a good and loving purpose in allowing our season of grief. And when it felt like the pain of loss might unearth us, or that it would never end, we were reminded that God was more than able to gently care for us during this unique season.
“But I trust in your unfailing love, my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.” (Psalm 13:5-6 NIV)