I’m not sure what changed last week but it feels different now.
Before that we all kind of chuckled and said to each other, “Boy, this is rough.” We tried to get used to the new normal and gave each other tips on homeschooling and recipes for banana bread and taught each other about Zoom.
But I think we never really believed that this is indeed our “new normal.” Over the weekend it sank in. This is going to be hard.
Grief: The Loss of How It Was Supposed to Be
We’re grieving. It’s not how you typically think of grief– over the loss of a loved one (not yet, at least). But we’re grieving in the loss of how it was supposed to be.
We were supposed to be going on a spring break vacation. My son was supposed to be playing his first year of high school spring football…and his last year of middle school track. My nephew was supposed to be going to his last prom. My friend was supposed to be building her ministry support team to begin full-time ministry. Two friends were supposed to be going on their honeymoon. I was supposed to have breakfast with my parents. This isn’t how it was supposed to be. And it hurts.
And we look to the future and it’s hard to see the hope. Will our loved ones get sick, or maybe even die? Will our economy recover? Will we come out the other end and ever have the “right normal” again?
When the present hurts and the future is bleak it’s tempting to try to turn it all off. We try to escape into mindless scrolling or busy projects. But if we don’t face our pain square in the eye it will slyly worm its way deeper into our hearts until it becomes an unseen, but controlling force within us. Left unchecked, it will handicap us with fear, doubts, and bitterness.
When the present hurts and the future is bleak it’s tempting to try to turn it all off. …But if we don’t face our pain square in the eye it will slyly worm its way deeper into our hearts until it becomes an unseen, but controlling force within us.
So how do we face our grief? We need to pull it out from inside, look at it, compare it with our God, and release it. Let me show you how that looks.
How to Face Your Grief
Don’t Judge Your Own Grief Experience…Or Anyone Else’s
You may be surprised at how you react to your situation. You might feel more upset or confused than even you think the situation warrants. Or maybe you feel like you should be more upset but somehow you feel numb. Listen to me when I say that there is no right way to grieve. There is no right amount of time to feel it; there is not right level of sadness to prove it. Don’t “should” on your grief.
Feel Your Feelings
Although it may be tempting to repress your feelings and distract yourself, this isn’t the way to find healing. Check in with yourself each morning, asking, “How am I doing today?” or “How am I experiencing my grief today?” Stop and ask yourself if you need to take something off of your to-do list for the day, or if you’re ready to tackle some normalcy.
Be prepared that your feelings may come in waves. There may be many days in a row where you feel “okay.” But grief isn’t linear. So don’t be startled if the grief returns the next day or the next year. And don’t worry, because that doesn’t mean that you have gone backwards in your healing. Just feel those feelings as they come. Acknowledge them. There is power in facing your feelings. (See this insightful post on Reddit.)
Ask Your Questions
It is good and appropriate to take your questions to God. Read through the Psalms and you will see the pain in their questions
How long, O Lord, how long? (Ps. 6:3)
Will you forget me forever? (Ps. 13:1)
How long will you hide your face from me? (Ps. 13:1)
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and everyday have sorrow in my heart? (Psalm 13:2)
How long will my enemy triumph over me? (Ps. 13:2)
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? (Ps. 22:1)
Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning? (Ps. 22:1)
So ask God your questions. Express your pain to him. He can handle it. He wants you to let him handle it.
Be Like a Child
“Let the Beloved of the Lord rest secure in him, for he shields him all day long. And the one the Lord loves rests between his shoulders.” (Deuteronomy 37:4)
When my youngest son is upset, he crawls up into my lap. He just wants to be held. He knows that I love him, and he finds comfort in my arms even as the pain continues. “Just hold me, Mommy.”
Our God is loving and compassionate. When it hurts, let’s crawl up to him and rest in his loving arms where we can find comfort. “Just hold me, Father.”
We have a God who heals. Every painful situation that he allows into our lives is part of his loving plan to draw us to him and to build our faith. Our grief is our best proof that we weren’t created for this broken world, but for a whole one, untainted by hardship or pain. God loved us so much that he made a way for us to be with him forever in a restored world where all tears will be wiped away by his tender hand.