The medical definition for pain is the physical feeling caused by disease, injury, or something that hurts the body. Mental or emotional suffering. Brokenness is defined as forcibly separated into two or more pieces. When I think of my grief and my heartbreak, I can become so overwhelmed that it is challenging to get out of bed. I have to focus on the work it takes to grieve purposely. I have to intently focus on the fragments. There is sadness, grief, anger, and this luring traumatic imprint that shows itself. I’m left to gather up these pieces. Most days I’m successful in the maneuvering around the triggers, and many days where I fall to my knees asking God for help….The memories for the most part of wonderful, but there are also memories that leave me immobile. I remember finding Eliyah in his bed early that morning unresponsive. I remember the 911 call, I still see the horror on my daughters face as she entered his room, I have the memory of seeing my dad hold onto my fireplace mantle for support and shed tears ( at that time I’d only seen my dad cry three times in my life). It’s been six years and these memories are still here. I’m unable to forget. I still see his face three hours before leaving my room saying I love you with that big smile. I’m happy that I still have that memory, and many others that make me smile.
I read somewhere recently that the wound is the place where the light enters you. My life was severly interrupted. My daily life patterns were shattered. Profound changes were inevitable. Death interrupts, it causes pain, it brings brokenness to the forefront. It delivers wounds so deep that most won’t even talk about it. But as much as we hate it, we will all experience it. It’s unavoidable. Grief is pain. Grief expresses our connection with our loved one that’s gone and in and of itself it is an expression of love. Bottom line is once you have experienced the darkness, you appreciate the things that shine.
The passing of Eliyah has changed me forever. In two days it will mark him leaving this earth six years ago. I feel it just as much today as I did the moment the paramedics pronounced him gone. My heart was shattered into an infinite amount of pieces. However, it has made me stronger. More resilient. I have courage that I didn’t possess before. I love differently, I share differently. I give more than I did before. It pushed me to set realistic goals, changed how I communicate with others. I am more transparent, I have developed better coping skills through hardships. Yes, grief has changed me.
In my being broken, I drew closer to God. I had to go on. Trusting in his grace. Holding on to his faithfulness. He told me in Psalm 139 that I could trust him even in times of grief. This was going to require a spiritual healing.
When I think of a broken bone I know that it takes time to heal. It is also a process that involves much. Its usual cause is that there’s has been some excessive force applied and the break or shatter occurs. It causes much pain. It also varies at the duration of the healing. This all correlates to grief. It can’t be rushed. It can also be gruesome, and ugly. It is a process that like the healing of bones will vary in time from person to person. Grief has challenged me to invest differently with my time, and gave me light as to what really matters and what doesn’t.
I’m grateful that pain, being broken, and grief has an end. Just like our bodies, it is temporary. Have you heard the saying ” This too shall pass”? It’s true. There is peace on the other side of pain. We can rest in Jesus, and disengage from the busyness of the world. Healing takes patience and time. There is joy in the mourning. God will give you peace for your pieces.
Think about what areas in your life that has forever changed you. Has God reminded you that there can be peace in the midst?
The thing about grief is that what is true always changes. My life since Eliyah’s passing hasn’t become easier, it’s become more complex. I set on a search for balance, which included setting some much needed boundaries. Friends, family have this idea of how you should be. It’s their perception of how you should grieve. For example, ” You’re too happy today, shouldn’t you be more sad? ” Or “you sure are sad don’t forget to smile it’s been almost ( insert time here).” People unintentionally will fault you or bring guilt because they perceive it should look a certain way. I was and am determined to not fall into that trap. Grief looks different for me than it does for anyone else. Grief is unique. I had to talk to the Lord about this often. Smiling…. I felt how can I do this when he is not here to enjoy? I felt I was betraying Eliyah who was not here. Sadness… does Eliyah really want me to be so sad? I searched for moments yes moments of enjoyment. I wasn’t going crazy, I was grieving. There are so many layers to grief. I experienced people saying extremely insensitive things to me. It’s like did that really come out of your mouth??? You can’t wrap your mind around it. But what matters the most is not what is said to me or about me but my response. What is my reaction? What are my thoughts towards this person? They don’t understand my pain, or maybe they are trying to avoid their own pain, They speak without thinking etc. Whatever the reason may be has nothing to do with me. What was helpful to me was not to respond. Yep, keep my mouth shut and when necessary remove and isolate myself from the source. You think, am I not going through enough without the extra nonsense of people?? yet God was reminding me that even in grief he will get the glory. I had to forgive…Cry out to God to help me because this is hard.. Job said ” I have heard many things like these; miserable comforters are you all. (Job 16:1-2). Can you even imagine?? How frustrating it was to listen sometimes. I had to in my anger and sometimes confusion forgive. I could not allow bitterness to take root in my heart towards these individuals. Did I get mad? Yep…. I sure did. I could not believe that people I knew would behave in that manner or from a different perspective those that vanished, disappeared, went ghost, that simply could not handle or face our loss did that…. I though they would be near to my family and instead they were not. Again dealing with the many layers of grief. Recently, I sat with a young woman who recently lost her teenage son. Part of our conversation, she told me she visits the cemetery every day. I said to her you must do what gives you peace. She said her sister asks her “Why do you go there, he’s not there!” She said she knows but it’s something she has to do for now for herself.. I told her if going to the cemetery for the last month since his passing brings you healing, then that’s what you do. You can not be pressured into grieving how your sister feels or wants you to, or anyone else for that matter. I said people mean well for the most part, but going to his gravesite helps you and that is all that matters. Well meaning, well-intentioned people, has caused me to pray more. They do not understand my pain, and nor should I expect them too. My expectations have to stay in check and I have to focus on what is crucial and beneficial to my healing. Having and keeping my boundaries. It always points back to the Lord. I was reminded a couple of days ago that God’s Sovereignty is over my situation. He is in absolute total control which means I can trust and lean on him through my pain. I hope and pray that you can do this as well.
I have a hope….
I pray each day that your sorrows lighten. The Lord is your strength. I knew that when Eliyah passed there would be new journey ahead of us that we would have to endure. I didn’t want it nor did I ask for it but here it was. I could not change it… I couldn’t close my eyes, click my heels and wake up and he’d be back. I wanted to even bargain with God.. Change this outcome for my peace I cried out!! I wrestled with him, I told God that I thought you loved me…well this doesn’t feel like love… Love shouldn’t hurt I thought. You allowed me to be crushed and I don’t know if I can trust what you say!! I said all of this in my hurt. I will tell you that I was in awe that God gave me so much strength and compassion for others in the midst of those first few weeks. My faith in God, probably just a tiny bit bigger at the time than a mustard seed demanded that I have hope. It demanded that I not lean to what I understood because I didn’t know why. I didn’t have any answers. I knew that this, Eliyah’s absence felt unbearable. My spirit did what my flesh wanted to fight. I was able to smile because deep down I knew God did love me. I kept hearing it….Elizabeth, you’re so strong, you’re so composed, you’re so inspirational, you’re so this and that…..I “felt” like none of that. I was this woman/mother who felt like she has just been stepped on and was struggling to regain focus. I felt insane, helpless, invisible, and very other feeling inside. These were my feelings. I believed in the power of God. I knew that if I let go I would have crumbled. I thought that only the dark clouds of despair were visible. So, I kept my eyes on him. I kept focused on him. I clutched only to him. I only wanted to see his Glory because my heart, my spirit knew that it was the key to my survival. It was imperative so that I may endure. I was brought to the edge of hopelessness. I want to encourage you that God knows your struggle, and heartaches. There is no hole to deep that Gods love can’t reach. Endure, fight, and don’t lose hope!!!! Words alone can’t heal so I/we/ will go to the rock that’s higher than us!!! Amen!!!!