Freedom to Grieve

How is it that a month and half can feel like a year? Many times in life we find ourselves talking about how fast the time goes, that the months and days are just flying by. But in this season of suffering, many of the weeks have blurred together, feeling like a thick fog of emotion. 

Early on after learning about my miscarriage, when I wasn't spending time with our sweet daughter, I'd wake up many days and just sit on the couch. I spent hours in God's Word, listening to worship music, reading helpful books, journaling, praying, crying out to the Lord. 

I found myself asking many times, "What am I supposed to do right now?" Not in a how-will-I-ever-move-on kind of way, but a very literal sense of "what should I spend my time doing?" There's this ambiguity to life in moments of deep sorrow, where the weight of your grief is so heavy you can't imagine doing the things you used to do.

I'd try to envision doing one of my usual activities–going to the grocery store, taking a walk, sitting in a cafe to read or meet with a friend, and it all felt so overwhelming. Many times I'd say to my husband, "I just don't want to move on too fast. I don't want our baby to be forgotten." And doing anything else in those moments except grieving felt like I'd be doing just that. 

I remember the first friend I ever talked with about our loss–Lidija, one of my dearest Slovene friends. Truthfully, I was afraid to share about my sorrow with anyone–not simply the news that we lost our baby, but what I was feeling, experiencing and thinking, allowing someone in to the depths of my heart. 

This is undoubtedly the most vulnerable I have ever felt in my life, so the thought of entrusting my most fragile self to someone outside of my husband seemed incredibly risky. What are they going to say? What if they say the wrong thing that hurts or offends me? What if talking makes this pain worse, not better? And those thoughts all echoed in my mind again as I contemplated whether or not to share our loss publicly on my blog.

While, again, my hope can't be in how someone responds or reacts, whether positively or negatively, I sensed the Lord leading me to share with Lidija, to let someone in, and likewise to share with you all.

What an incredible gift from a good Father our time together was. I felt so comforted, reassured, and free. And what did this dear friend do? First, she walked in the door with a dinner she made for us (the magnitude of this tangible gift cannot be expressed enough). 

She simply sat next to me on the couch, listened–without interrupting, without questions, without advice–and grieved and mourned with me. When I started to cry she just held me and wept with me; she embodied Romans 12:15, weeping with me while I wept. 

While Lidija is a fellow believer in Jesus, she didn't feel the need to quote Scripture at me, or tell me "it's all going to be ok" or "he's working this for your good!" True statements, but not what I needed in that moment. 

Instead when I shared fears or anxiety I was having, she gave me permission to grieve, to feel the weight of the loss of our child. She freed me from unrealistic burdens I felt or was putting on myself. She told me to take time, to not feel pressured to jump back into "normal life" but do what I needed to do in that moment. It wasn't an encouragement to neglect God or my family, to drown myself in sorrow, but to just be ok sitting in the grief.

Oh, how deeply I needed someone to vocalize this permission to me. To just sit and be still before the Lord, to not stuff or neglect my emotions, yet not surrender to them either. 

To the person reading this who is walking through a difficult time, I pray you feel the freedom to grieve–to be where you are and to be honest about what you are thinking and feeling. While I don't encourage letting emotions rule or guide you, they are incredibly real and unavoidable. Don't rush through your pain. Be content to sit at Jesus' feet with all your mess and tears, trusting that, if you believe in him, he is with you and will guide you through all the twists and bends of this road that lie ahead. Your journey won't look like someone else's–don't try to make it.

For those of you that know someone experiencing suffering right now, I pray you would be a friend that brings freedom to them, allowing them to share what they want and feel what they are. You don't need to come up with the "right words," but just let them know you care, that you are there for them, that they are not forgotten or alone in their pain. Especially as time passes. Their lives may appear to be "back to normal" but I promise, in some capacity, at a heart and emotional level, they are still experiencing their grief daily. Remind them that you haven't forgotten either.