My heart has been so heavy lately. Over the last few months I have watched those close to me go through the most trying of times. My husband lost a dear friend to illness. A week later a sweet family we grew to know this year lost their precious four-year-old daughter to a rare brain tumor. I had to explain to my young son why his best friend’s little sister went to Heaven. Three days ago my cousin suddenly passed away.
I sat alone last night thinking about the people closest to those we’ve recently lost. I thought of brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents, children, cousins and friends who are beginning to navigate through their grief. They are in that delicate place where the world just doesn’t make much sense.
Losing someone suddenly and unexpectedly or with warning is equally painful. Even if you had months to think through the upcoming loss, grief comes out of left field and knocks the wind right out of you. If you have experienced the loss of a loved one before, the pain isn’t lessened.
Seeing my friends and loved ones struggling with their losses has reminded me of the hopelessness grief can bring. When my triplet sons died almost eight years ago, I was broken. I was a broken wife, a broken mom…a broken person. The grief crept into my heart and took hold. It threatened to ruin my relationships. I could see myself slipping into a very dark place, and I wasn’t even sure I cared about pulling myself out of it.
It was almost like I wanted to hurt. I couldn’t save my babies, and I wasn’t sure I could ever forgive my body for failing me…for failing them. I actually thought that if I wasn’t hurting and suffering, I would start to forget them.
Grief was new to me. I hadn’t truly ever experienced that kind of loss. Being unfamiliar with those deep emotions left me feeling lost. I didn’t have the tools to work through my grief in the best way. I grew immensely from that time in my life, but in the beginning I felt pretty hopeless.
What I know now is that one day you will pull back the curtains and look outside to find the sun shining brightly. You will notice that the clouds parted just enough for the first light to shine through. You will be caught off guard by your own laughter when someone tells a joke. It will be a sound you never thought you’d hear again.
Then you will sit down in the evening and realize that you were so busy that you didn’t think of your loved one at all that day. You will feel bad because well…you don’t feel as bad. You will try desperately to cling on to the grief because it is all you have left of someone so dear to you. Slowly but surely, the pain will lessen and you will find yourself again. Not your grief-stricken self, but the self that feels joy and genuine happiness.
If you are grieving the loss of a loved one right now, give yourself permission to feel that deep, gut-wrenching hurt that is rising up inside of you. Don’t shy away from it. Trust me. It will come whether you want it to or not. It might hit you a week or a month later. Sometimes it creeps up on you when you least expect it, and that’s okay.
What you can’t do is let the grief start to take root in your heart. You have to look for the light. That tiny sliver of hope shining through. Everyone’s “light” looks different. It may be a friend, a family member, your church, or an activity you enjoy. After losing my babies, it was my then two-year-old son who kept me going. He gave me a reason to get out of bed in the morning when I didn’t want to.
Unfortunately, grief only lessens with time. You can’t hurry the process. For now, just keep on keeping on. Do what you can to find that reason to keep going each day. Put your head up and look around. You just might see something beautiful on the horizon.