I have found that grief is an awful lot like floating in an ocean.
First, the GRIEF EVENT happens and some time passes. The funeral is over. The people have gone home. The relationship is done. The papers are signed. The diagnosis settles in. Or in my case, the pregnancy is over and your arms are still empty. You are so stunned from this storm, this GRIEF EVENT, but eventually you notice that the sky is starting to clear. Then slowly, you are surprised to notice you are still floating in water.
It takes a minute to get used to this sensation. You are used to solid ground beneath your feet. But after surviving the storm, you are happy that rain isn’t in your eyes anymore and you are thankful for the feeling of the sun touching your cheeks. Pretty soon, it starts to feel like maybe the storm wasn’t as bad as you remembered it to be. You could get used to floating in water.
But then the wave comes. It always does.
I was getting used to floating in water.
But my wave came. And isn’t it just ironic that it came in the form of a silly commercial. I have survived baby showers, pregnancy announcements, and newborn babies. But the commercial took me down. This young man was thinking about all of his expectations for his child while he awaited the news of the pregnancy test. And of course the happy wife comes in with a positive result. A stab hit me as I realized I would have been just about half way done with my pregnancy and would already know the gender by now. And all of a sudden I wasn’t just floating in water. The water was all around me. It sent me tumbling, along with the roar of the wave, knocking me off balance and disorienting me. All those feelings became just as real as they did that day in April in that doctor’s office. And for the second time ever, I let myself cry.
And the sad and hard thing about floating in the ocean is that waves usually don’t come one at a time. The next day, I was back to floating in the sunshine. My tears were gone. But I had probably swallowed too much water in the wave and I had some fresh bruises. Then the next one came. It was stronger than the last one…or was I just feeling weaker now? And I cried again- like ugly, hot mess cried- as I sat on a bed with my sister-in-law/dear friend, Beth.
You never know when someone is right in the middle of their wave. So please- follow Beth’s example and hold on to your friend and let them tumble around. Please know they don’t like feeling so off track, so messy, so weak. But there is not much you can do when you are inside a wave.
And….I am back to floating again. I am working this week, laughing with Justin and Jack, eating healthy, and dreaming of the baby finding its way to our family.
But I still feel the water around me now.
For those of you who know I believe in God, I am sure you are waiting for the cheeky analogy that Jesus comes in with a life raft and lifts me out of the waves. But that just isn’t true. And that idea is hurtful for those of us still struggling in the waves wishing for rescue. Grief has always been part of the deal because we are HUMANS…on EARTH. We were designed and created with emotions. We cry, we mourn, we laugh, we wrestle with anxiety, we sob, we scream, we FEEL. If you read the story of Jesus in the garden the night before his death,I would conclude he is having his own “wave moment”. So no, He doesn’t magically lift us out of it. We can and should expect waves to come. It is just part of the deal. But, I believe grief is still in God’s plan. Grief will always show us everything that is wrong and broken. And grief will always point to everything that is right and whole. Without darkness, we could never appreciate the light. Without silence, music would just be noise. The waves of grief are a reminder that this isn’t the end of the story. This isn’t all there is. And although I can’t expect a quick rescue from grief, I am promised a Companion in the water.
But if I am being honest, tonight, I wish I was just standing on the shore instead of floating in the ocean. I want to wriggle my toes in the warm sand and feel convinced that image of the baby we lost on the ultrasound screen would never cross my mind again. I want to forget all the years we battled infertility, watching helplessly as so many things died in our hearts and in our marriage. I am sure you have some wishes of your own after your GRIEF EVENT. But tonight, I am also grateful that I can grieve as someone with hope. I have hope that someday, as the years pass, these waves will feel more like ripples. I have hope in the One who promises to make all things right.
So if I start floating next to you in our oceans, I will give you a nod and smile. And these days, I might need to hang on to you a little tighter when the next wave comes. In fact, let’s just hold on to each other.