FINDING THE GOOD IN THE GRIEVING
I realize this is a very long post, but I ask you to bear with me because once again, I’m going to be brutally honest here and admit some things I’m dealing with. Things I don’t want to think about, let alone write about. But things that God has given me to help me through this. Steps that I think can truly help others.
I know many of you have been anticipating 2021 since March of 2020.
It’s been a year of horrors, and people desperately need to believe everything will change for the better in the coming year.
But I am struggling.
Thanksgiving and Christmas~
decorating shopping, wrapping, baking, Hallmark movies and Christmas music~
all of these things masked the deep ache of grief in my heart.
I didn’t want to face it just like I don’t want to face 2021.
I don’t want to move forward.
My heart wants to go back in time.
I’m facing the responsibilities that go along with losing your last parent. Packing up a lifetime of memories my dad held on to. My memories. I don’t want to go through his drawers and cupboards and make the hard decisions on what gets thrown away, or given away, or kept. I want to keep it all, right down to the tape dispenser and air freshener he recently purchased.
No, my heart doesn’t want to move forward. Instead, I want to go back in time and just sit with him there in his living room. Laughing about something funny my grandchildren did. Sharing a chocolate. Reminiscing. I want to see his red Jeep outside my front door as he stops by for his daily check in.
I want to tell him one more time how much I love him.
I know many of you are in the same boat. This year has taken so many loved ones.
The heartbreak has been unfathomable.
In the past 5 months I’ve written 7 posts on a variety of things that can change your life for the better.
Today my own heart longs to be changed.
I don’t want to be sad. I don’t want to mask the pain with busyness or superficial happiness. I don’t want to continue to push it down into the recesses of my soul and pretend it isn’t there, always looming over me like a black cloud.
I don’t want to dwell on “what if’s” and “could have been’s”.
How do I move past this deep ache of grief?
I understand that everyone deals with grief differently. My own personality does not want to read someone else’s words on how to deal with grief.
The devil knows this.
He knows our personalities and he will use our own deceitful hearts against us. (Jeremiah 17: 9) He tricks me into believing that I am unique in my pain and no one can possibly understand enough to write anything that will help.
But he is wrong.
God has continually been tugging at my heart. He will never leave me.
He will not give up on me~
even when I feel like giving up on me.
He is always whispering to my sadness~”I am right here Charisse.” (Romans 8:38&39)
And so, today I want to share some simple things God has used to comfort me. I am a work in progress. My words are not the ‘end all’ solution. They are a day by day choice. Every single day has new challenges and I know I am facing some even harder ones in the coming weeks.
1. Ask God for help- As I have said in my previous ‘life changing’ posts, my number 1 tip will always, always, always be to ask God for help. You will never conquer the next 6 steps if you do not take this very first one. (Psalms 16:11, Romans 8:26, John 14:16-18, 26, I Peter 5:7)
2. Stay in Gods word- The minute I slip away and allow other things to come before, or even replace my time spent talking to God or reading His word is the minute the heartbreaking grief takes control. (John 15:11, I Thessalonians 5:17) Every morning I must get out of bed and choose joy. (Nehemiah 8:10) Choose God, His words, His promises, His peace. Some days when I wake up I just know it’s going to be a good day. I smile. I tell myself I can do this. Other mornings, I just want to hide under the covers and sleep the day away so I don’t have to deal. I don’t know why one morning can be so different from the next, but these are the days that I must choose wisely. I must choose God. Which takes me back to point number 1. I cannot do this in my own strength, so on days like this I cry out to Him and ask Him to help me. Some days I am silently begging Him for help over and over and over again. Even though the day may feel like it was the worst day ever, when I lay my head on my pillow that night I realize I made it through, but only because of Him. If we could see our lives the way God can~if we could understand how horrible things would have been without His continuing presence~we would realize that even on our worst days He was right there with us and got us through it. (Jeremiah 33:3) Tomorrow is a new day. (Psalms 118:24)
3. Face your grief- as much as I don’t want to, I have realized that I cannot pretend my dad is just gone visiting my brothers. I cannot push the pain down deep and not think about it, because in doing so the pain will remain debilitating. I must face it, and in facing it a myriad of other steps come into play.
4. Cry. Talk it out. Ask for help and prayer- We should not feel shame for the grief we are going through. We do not have to pretend we have it all together. We need to cry and not bottle everything inside. This is an area I have a hard time with. I do not want to cry because I do not want to cause my children worry or sadness and I don’t want my grandchildren to see me sad. I have realized that this not only makes the process harder, but drags the grief out longer and longer. There is nothing wrong with asking for help, for someone to just come and sit with you as you talk about what you’re going through or just need to reminisce. (Galatians 6:2) There is nothing wrong with asking others to please pray for you when you are having a bad day. (I Thessalonians 5:25, James 5:16, Matthew 18:20) There is nothing wrong with crying. (Psalms 56:8-13) There is nothing in the Bible that says that we shouldn’t cry, only that we should not cry as if we have no hope. (I Thessalonians 4:13) Which brings me to my next point.
5. Eternity- God has given us this amazing, unaltering hope through the shed blood of His Son Jesus on the cross. Eternity. If we believe that Jesus died and rose again, if we in repentance accept His gift of salvation~ God promises us eternity with Him in heaven. (I Thessalonians 4:14) My daddy did this and I have the full assurance from God’s word that my dad is at home in heaven right now. (Romans 6:8, John 14:2, I John 5:13, II Corinthians 5:8) If I choose to focus on my dad instead of myself~ it changes my whole perspective. Why would I choose to wish for him to be here with me, when he is in the very presence of his God? His Heavenly Father who loved him so greatly that He sent His Son to die for Him? My cousin so sweetly reminded me of this on Christmas Day. His very words were~”he is celebrating Christ with your mom right now.” My parents are celebrating Christ, and what a celebration!!! They are in glory. No more pain. (Revelation 21:4) Only praises. (Psalms 89:5, Luke 15:10)
6. Focus on the good and be thankful- This can be a hard one because when we focus on the good and happy memories, they often bring the tears as well. I know there will come a day when my tears turn into happy, thankful tears. And so, I will remember all the happy times. All the moments turned into memories. The moments that wouldn’t seem particularly special at all to anyone else, but hold beautiful happiness to me. Moments that I thank God for. (Philippians 4:6) As much as my heart hurts and wants those moments back, if I continually remember step number 1, I know that God will help me to be thankful and to see how amazing it was that I had all those silly, special, mundane moments with my dad here in Caseville the last four years.
7. Live every day as if it were your last- (Psalms 90:12b) We do not know what tomorrow holds. (James 4:14) We aren’t promised tomorrow, or even today. Knowing this, and with God’s help, I am moving into the future. Today. January 1, 2021. I am resolving to live every day to the fullest. To see the beauty in every single thing~ whether that’s the snow storm in our forecast, whether that’s the silly things my husband does that tend to irritate me or my aching back that I threw out putting Christmas decorations away~ I am asking God to show me the good in every singe thing. And my friend~ there is SO MUCH GOOD. (James 1:17) Beautiful, fresh clean snow. A picture of a new beginning. A husband that loves me despite all my irritating qualities (like putting away heavy Christmas boxes without asking for help) and then waits on me hand and foot. Time spent sitting with him because, as much as I want to, I can’t move. And realizing how precious this time of doing ‘nothing’ is. I am resolving to truly be present for my grandchildren. To stop and listen to their childish babbling and soak in every word. To play with them and create beautiful moments they can someday remember and be thankful for. So I will ask you~ how do you want your friends and your loved ones to remember you right now? Today? If you drew your last breath as you fell asleep tonight, just as my dad did, would they remember sadness or would they remember joy? Not a masked happiness but the true joy that only comes from God?
I want my friends and loved ones to remember joy. I want my husband and children and grandchildren to remember my laughter. I want them to remember me smiling, just as I will always hold the memory of my dad.
My sweet, precious dad outside my front door in his red Jeep. Smiling.
Smile again with me my friends.
I promise, God can change your life!
Ask Him to help you find the good again.