I was told once that you experience grief in waves. You never know when you will be overcome with emotion when you have experienced a death or horrible news. It hits at the most inopportune times – in the grocery store, driving down the road, sitting at your computer at work.
Let’s be honest, it sucks.
Having a reason to grieve absolutely sucks.
In May of 2005, I did not handle grief very well. I shut down. For several months I was stuck in the anger and sadness and couldn’t move past. I didn’t want to move past – I felt like it would be an injustice to the child we lost.
What I found during that time is that friends and family held me up with their presence. (Granted, there might have been a few people during that process who said the most infuriating things that one should never hear when they are grieving – but that’s for another post.) I found that the ones who simply let me cry and listened to me – even though it was probably difficult to understand my words through the sobs – modeled God’s presence for me.
What I saw was the very best of people of faith. Those who expressed their love for me in very practical ways – not cliches. What I felt was the presence of God through them when I struggled to experience it for myself. These friends walked beside me and showed me that God was walking with me through my pain.
I was finally able to function again, though the grief still hit me hard at times. In fact, even almost 8 years later it will come back.
Grief sucks. But at some point in all our lives we will all experience it. Some worse than others.
Sweet Jeremy Adkins lost his amazing wife last week. A beautiful mother to 5 gorgeous girls. The road they are walking is one of the most difficult imaginable – a road that simply hurts to even fathom.
And yet . . .
What I’m seeing is the very best of people of faith. A church that has come alongside this family to provide for them in very practical ways. A community of friends and strangers who have contributed to a fund for the girls’ education. People who are led by a compassion bigger than themselves to act.
But, what is most striking is how Jeremy is walking this path of intense grief.
Somehow he is able to encourage others through his grief. He is able to give perspective and remind those who are following the story that none of us are guaranteed an extra day on this earth – that we should make the most of the time we have with those we love. It is clear that he is heartbroken, and yet he is giving us all a lesson of the good of grief.
Compassion, empathy, authenticity, kindness, gentleness . . . these are the good things that, as I have experienced, can come from grief. I believe, wholeheartedly, that it’s those qualities that can change the world.
Jeremy, in your grief you are changing the world. You are showing people the character of God in the midst of your pain – and I’m grateful for you.