Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Grief: Simple, yet messy

Grief seems to be a strange area in life. My grandma just died last night and it has brought to the surface many things about my dad (He died 5 years ago this coming May 23). I wanted to take time and share a couple of things I have learned along the way, along with some failures in the process.

First of all, grief is messy, yet it is very simple. Grief is not complicated. I have found that many times the paralyzing part of grief comes when people start believing that grief is just to complicated, along with being very messy.

Next, it is eerily scary to see how easy we can suppress our emotions and others think this is mature in some way. I remember hearing so many people tell me they thought I was dealing with my dad’s death in a very mature way. One thing I have found is that many people equate external stoicism with maturity in life. I am not saying you have to cry your eyes out every day, but the problem comes when you equate “not crying” with properly working through grief. I was scared of my emotions and in some degree am still working through this fear in my life. The fear of “feeling to deeply” caused me to suppress my emotions (whether crying, laughing, etc.) in such a way that I ended up trying to be the god of my own emotions. I quit trusting God with this part of my life. This is called practical atheism. I worked out how I could be "presentable" to people without asking God to teach me who He was and thus show me how to properly unpack grief. If you find yourself in this camp I pray you would experientially know that He is not only bigger that any emotion you have, but that He will be faithful to help you unpack your emotions.

Finally, I have learned that proper grief ultimately comes down to knowing Him. This is why grief is simple. Instead of trying to suppress my emotions or even plan how I am going to feel about a certain memory that I have, I ask God to teach me how to know Him more and have faith that He will reveal to me the information behind the emotions. After all, I may cry one day and that emotion is from missing my dad or grandma, yet tears the following day may be because I am happy from another memory. I am not trying to trivialize grief down to laughing, crying, or neither. Just like in all of life our emotions are numerous and so are the ways we express them. When I came to the understanding that God really does want us to know Him through all of our emotions I quit trying to control them and entrusted myself to Him.

Therefore, grief has ultimately taught me to be challenged with the question, “Who is God?” Do I trust who He says He is? Do I trust that He knows me better than I know myself? Do I trust that He will work all things out for my good? (Rom. 8:28) If I trust Him with who He says He is according to the Bible, it only follows that He will be faithful to comfort me and teach me who He is in the face of grief and will also give me unspeakable joy.

I pray that you will feel and know His comfort today if you are grieving in any way. I pray you will trust His faithfulness. I pray you will know that He really does want to show you how much He love you in the face of your grief. I pray that if you have never lost someone close to you that He would teach you how to walk alongside those who are grieving. I pray that in the face of good memories or bad that you would know He is your ultimate joy in life.

Grief is simple. Know Him. Grief is messy because it hurts terribly, yet He promises to comfort us in all of our afflictions so that we are able to comfort others in their time of need. (2 Cor. 1:3-5)



jcarson said...

Good words Vern. I can identify with your observation that many people equate external stoicism with maturity in life. Sorry to hear about your grandma. I'll be praying for you and your family. Much love...

kg said...

I'm very sorry, Vernon. I know it's tough and I'm glad you have worked through how best to go through this grieving process.

Anonymous said...

I read/hear the words but wonder if the logic has made to your heart.

lovetruth said...


Can you explain more about what you mean before I try and answer?


Love Truth