Grief. Though there are many books written on what this process looks like, it’s difficult to get it right.
While there may be seven confirmed stages of grief, (shock, denial, bargaining, guilt, anger, depression and acceptance) the journey is so intense and personal it simply can’t be measured. It’s wildly different for everyone. There is no path or order; and I’m not sure they can be referred to as ‘stages,’ since they overlap and happen all at once.
I’ve spent my entire life trying to make peace with grief, and this is one thing I know for sure. Nothing brings each of these phases to the forefront more than the holiday season.
I have many friends who are hurting as they come to terms with a year of firsts; new memories covered in loneliness because someone is missing. The world marches on, celebrating the joys of this season, but it’s all they can do to ratchet up enough energy to force a smile and get through each day.
In a recent conversation with a friend who had just lost her mother, I shared this with her.
Grief is like a long hike to the foot of a waterfall. It’s the toughest, most personal journey, and must be done alone.
You allow yourself to inch down, descending toward the foot of the waterfall with each step, you relive each treasured moment, breathing them in to recapture them forever.
At the foot of this waterfall is where you find God, and it’s just the two of you. He’s the one who created the one you lost, the one who chose her for you, the one who knows how much you are hurting, the one who hears all the unanswered questions you want to scream at him. At the waterfall, you can do whatever you feel like doing, because this is your waterfall.
And only yours.
Eventually, you climb underneath it and let it wash over you. Let it hold your pain, and somehow bring you peace. Imagine your mother sitting at the feet of God; both of them at the top of this waterfall, hearing every word you say. Allowing their love to flow down and fill you up again. Slowly and in intensely personal ways.
I think there are two times in life we are as close to God as humanly possible, as if he’s on one side of the curtain and we are on the other.
One is at the beginning of life, when he handed you over to your mother’s arms. And one is at the end, where you hand her back over to him.
This is what happens at this waterfall of grief. You find a way to hand her back over and regain your strength enough to climb back to the top.
The best part is that it’s your waterfall. You get to visit anytime, and I’m telling you it leads straight to Heaven; the only place any of this makes sense.
Matthew 5:4 – Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.