I love and hate this quote on grief.
“Grief is not a disorder, a disease or a sign of weakness. It is an emotional, physical and spiritual necessity, the price you pay for love. The only cure for grief is to grieve.” Earl Grollman
I love it because it reminds me of how much I loved my son David, my mom and dad, my nephew Matt, and many others who have died and left me to ache the loss of their presence, their touch, their laughter, and friendship. I hate it because it reminds me of how much I miss and love my son David, my mom and dad, my nephew Matt, and many others who have died and left me to ache the loss of their presence, their touch, their laughter, and friendship. The price and cure for loving so deeply is to accept the reality of grief and to grieve.
Yesterday we got a letter from Sasha and Sarah Hallock, our dear friends and one of our host couples. They just moved to New York City to minister to college students with Cru. They too have loved deeply and are now grieving. They wrote:
“Our biggest realization from the retreat is that we are grieving. We are grieving the loss of our home in Rochester, our friendships, our former staff team, our church and our proximity to family; but most of all, we realized we are grieving over Judah. The transition has reopened our sense of loss and sadness surrounding his disability, care, and ongoing needs.”
As I read their letter I wept for them. Their letter was raw, transparent, and real. It was not a sign of weakness. It was the result of loving deeply. To be honest it sparked something deep in my soul and I once again found myself grieving for my son. It was as if a scar was opened once again. It was painful and so I grieved.
In talking with my brother-in-law about the loss of our sons, we have gone back and forth on trying to describe what grief is like. You would think after almost eight years of grieving David’s passing I would be able to describe it or define it better. The following is a blog I found that I think describes grief better than anything I have ever read or tried to explain. You can find the post at https://travelswithmrnimble.blogspot.com/2014/02/one-of-best-descriptions-of-grief-ive.html
I wish I could say you get used to people dying. I never did. I don’t want to. It tears a hole through me whenever somebody I love dies, no matter the circumstances. But I don’t want it to “not matter”. I don’t want it to be something that just passes. My scars are a testament to the love and the relationship that I had for and with that person. And if the scar is deep, so was the love. So be it. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are a testament that I can love deeply and live deeply and be cut, or even gouged, and that I can heal and continue to live and continue to love. And the scar tissue is stronger than the original flesh ever was. Scars are a testament to life. Scars are only ugly to people who can’t see.
As for grief, you’ll find it comes in waves. When the ship is first wrecked, you’re drowning, with wreckage all around you. Everything floating around you reminds you of the beauty and the magnificence of the ship that was, and is no more. And all you can do is float. You find some piece of the wreckage and you hang on for a while. Maybe it’s some physical thing. Maybe it’s a happy memory or a photograph. Maybe it’s a person who is also floating. For a while, all you can do is float. Stay alive.
In the beginning, the waves are 100 feet tall and crash over you without mercy. They come 10 seconds apart and don’t even give you time to catch your breath. All you can do is hang on and float. After a while, maybe weeks, maybe months or years, you’ll find the waves are still 100 feet tall, but they come further apart. When they come, they still crash all over you and wipe you out. But in between, you can breathe, you can function. You never know what’s going to trigger the grief. It might be a song, a picture, a street intersection, the smell of a cup of coffee. It can be just about anything…and the wave comes crashing. But in between waves, there is life.
Somewhere down the line, and it’s different for everybody, you find that the waves are only 80 feet tall. Or 50 feet tall. And while they still come, they come further apart. You can see them coming. An anniversary, a birthday, or Christmas, or landing at O’Hare. You can see it coming, for the most part, and prepare yourself. And when it washes over you, you know that somehow you will, again, come out the other side. Soaking wet, sputtering, still hanging on to some tiny piece of the wreckage, but you’ll come out.
Take it from an old guy. The waves never stop coming, and somehow you don’t really want them to. But you learn that you’ll survive them. And other waves will come. And you’ll survive them too. If you’re lucky, you’ll have lots of scars from lots of loves. And lots of shipwrecks.”…G. Snow
If you know someone who is grieving, don’t be afraid to jump into the water with them as the waves are crashing over them to remind them they are not alone, that they are not weak, and remind them they have loved deeply.