Thursday, February 13, 2020

Good Grief

When driving to work I would pass Canuck Place Abbotsford campus and I would see the sign, Good Grief on a banner.  It caused me to pause each time.  Good grief sounds like such a paradox.  How can grief be good?  Well, I know how grief can feel bad. I know the days (still so many years later), when it feels like an elephant is sitting on my chest and a vice is gripping my windpipe.  I know the days where little things feel like big things and my nerves are shot.  I know the despair, triggered by the reminders of the traumatic moments that catapult me back through time and space.  Oh, bad grief is very easy to find and if one is not careful can be hard to move out of.

Good grief on the other hand, although elusive can be found.  When you move through the pain and reach another level of acceptance and can remember all the love and precious moments, good grief is there.  When friends remember your sweet loved one, post a picture, or send a text there too you find good grief.  Good grief is your husband dropping everything to come change a tire that you should be perfectly capable of changing because he knows you needed support that day.  Good grief is when in the midst of sadness you feel that unexplainable love and comfort that comes from Jesus.  Good grief is not impossible, but it is a choice.  As I remember back to 12 years ago on Valentine's Day I can remember the beauty and not the pain of Gracie's birth.  Those were traumatic days from the uncertainty of her survival to when I fainted in the NICU due to low iron levels and forgetting to eat.  Yet, through the trauma there came unrelenting hope that we had for her life.  Her birthday reminds me of good grief.

March 3, however is not as easy to navigate.  The days leading up to her passing were laden with such anguish.  No one can prepare you for the death of such a loved one nor the painful reminders that linger for years to come. The 11th anniversary of her passing (aka her Heaven Due Date) is hard to enter because although we celebrate that she is no longer suffering and is dancing with the angels, it is a stark reminder of her absence.  We must work harder to move through the bad grief on these days. When experiencing grief, little things can feel like big things.  So please be gentle with those around you.  You may never know the magnitude of the load they bear behind a brave smile.  If you know somone who has experienced grief, reach out to them.  Check-in and remind them they are not alone. You may be the life preserver that they need to not fall back into the sea of pain and sorrow.

If you are going through grief today, know that I am here with you.  Although I don't have a secret potion that will ease your pain, I can offer you hope.  That unrelenting hope that the sun will shine in your life again. When you are in the dark days and the bad days of grief, lean into the pain.  Don't shy away from it for it will only grow in its intensity.  If you have experienced grief you know exactly what I mean.  When you avoid the pain, the grief will start to present itself phsyically.  The heart won't let you forget.  The sooner you turn and face the grief, the sooner you can confront and then release the pain.  My only caveat is that you don't stay in that deep place of pain too long.  If you stay too long, it will engulf you.  Be sure to feel the pain, cry, scream, whatever it takes to physically release the sorrow that is rising within you.  It's like you are caught up in a torrent of a wave.  You don't know up from down and you are frightened.  But once you surrender to the wave of sorrow, the waters will still and you will come up gasping for air.  It is here that you have the choice.  It is here where you must choose to live and not sink back down into the sorrow.  Live for the beauty that is still in your life now.  Live to honour the life that was lost.  Live to love and bless others. Live while you still have breath in those lungs.  Don't sink back in, but look up.  Look up to the heavens, to the mountains to where your help comes from.  Look up, for that is where your sorrowful moments can be transformed and where you learn how to ride the wave of grief.  Each time you surface, you will feel less panicky until eventually you learn to be thankful for the grief
for your sorrow links you to that beloved person.  The skill of remembering your loved one without the trauma of the loss takes time.  There are still days over a decade later that I still arise from the waters gasping.  Yet, more often than not I can withstand the torrent of sorrow and emerge feeling thankful for the good grief.

Grace Kathryn Elizabeth Evans
Feb. 14, 2008-Mar. 3, 2009

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