Photo by Ylanite Koppens
I have temporarily departed from my usual format of exploring the Leap of Faith to process the grief of the death of a family member who committed suicide. If you or someone you know is suicidal PLEASE call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255
The gift of grief?
It seems like a contradiction of terms. After all, how can something that makes you feel like your heart is being ripped from your chest, be a gift? Few things wound us as deeply as the death of a loved one. Losing someone we love is like having a hole carved out of our hearts. When grief is a welling pit of pain and sorrow, it is really hard to see it as a gift. None the less, that is exactly what it is.
I recently heard a sermon on the importance of perspective. The pastor suggested that the thing we need most when we feel completely crushed by the weight of our problems, is a change of perspective. When life threatens to overwhelm us, we need to get our eyes off the problem and onto the creator of the universe. When we recognize that the one who stretched out the expanse of the heavens and formed the foundations of the earth, is at work on our behalf, then our whole outlook changes. The same is true of grief. When it feels like our heart is being ripped out of our chest and put through a meat grinder, what we need most is a change of perspective.
105 people die every minute. That is a staggering statistic. But it is more than a statistic. It represents real people, with real families just like ours. Yet as sobering and sad as it is to think that every minute the families of 105 people are experiencing the pain of loss, it doesn’t have the same emotional impact on us as the death of our loved one. Why not? Are we cold uncaring people? No. We are not impacted in the same way by the death of those 105 people, because we don’t have a relationship with them. This is where a change in perspective comes in.
The reason we grieve is we had a relationship with the person we lost. We did life together. We shared experiences. We laughed and cried together. We fought with each other. We knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We had each other’s backs. We grieve because their presence in our life had an impact on us. They were a part of the fabric of our lives. Without them our lives would have been much different. That is why we grieve. While we may be sad for strangers whose lives have ended, we only grieve for people who were an important part of our lives.
At first grief feels like an uncontrolled prairie fire, blazing through everything in its path. When the loss is fresh, the pain of it threatens to consume us. It feeds on our energy, thoughts, even our memories. It seems to draw strength and stamina from the experiences we shared with our loved one. In the first stages of grief, it can feel like everything we shared with that person is being devoured by the flames. As time passes, the pain of loss burns off and what remains are the warm embers of the love we shared. Our grief is a gift because, it enables us to get from the pain of loss to the place where we can cherish the memory of that person and carry them with us always.
If we are grieving, it means we had someone special in our lives. Someone with whom we shared a meaningful relationship. Losing them is painful beyond words. However, the same thing that causes us such pain at their loss is what makes them an enduring and indelible part of our lives. If we are grieving, it means they mattered! They left a permanent mark on our lives. It means we made a real and lasting connection! One that cannot be broken, even by death. Grief is a gift because it affirms their value. It honors who that person was. Grief enables us to continue to hold them close emotionally even if we have lost them physically. As long as we cherish their memory and hold them close to our hearts, they will always be with us. Grief enables us to do just that.
That is the gift of Grief!
© TamellaWhite 2020