When I began writing this ministry blog about 15 weeks ago, one of the topics I wanted to include was a glimpse into the world of a grieving person – and in my case, DEEPLY grieving a loss. In all of those 15 weeks, I have yet to write on this topic, so I guess it’s about time! Most of my personal blog covers this aspect of my world so my intent wasn’t really to duplicate those writings.
But along with practical advice and biblical exhortations, I think it’s vitally important to have some sense of what the grieving person is experiencing if you want to truly minister to them – and be that blessing we so often talk about.
I’m not suggesting that you will know exactly what they are feeling – nor do you want to, most likely! And you may often question whether their handling of this grief is “appropriate” or “accurate.” I quote those two words because there really is no way to apply them to the very unique nature of someone’s grief journey.
So, while there are multiple areas that I CAN’T adequately address here, nevertheless, I want to shine a bit of a light into what this world looks like for me at this stage of my grieving. Every grieving person’s world looks a little different, and I can only speak on that which I’m living. But I do know that much of what I’m experiencing is what others who have also gone through a deep loss say is true for them as well.
As I pondered just what I could share that would be helpful – without looking pitiful or wanting sympathy! – I’ve landed on a simple concept. And, it comes with a simple illustration.
What the world sees of my pain is truly just the tip of the grief iceberg. Close friends certainly look a bit deeper into that ocean, but no one sees the mass of grief hiding out of sight.
On the surface, you may see me tear up from time to time. You may have a conversation with me where I talk about how difficult the season continues to be.
But underneath that surface is a life of grieving that is done essentially alone. Even though there are times of joy in my life, the underlying emotion I live with daily is sadness. I’ve heard it described as a computer program always running in the background. There is more pain, more tears, more heartache and more loneliness than anyone knows.
And that’s how it should be. What?? Are you surprised by that statement? In my world at least, the truly deep grieving and heart wrenching moments are shared solely with God. He is the only One Who can fully understand my pain. And He is the only One who ultimately can give me comfort and healing. Through THIS trial, God is strengthening my faith and causing me to trust Him more and more.
So, you may be asking yourself, “Then why even bother writing this post if there’s nothing we can do to help this grieving person?”
Reasonable question! My purpose is to float this idea. (Yes, that’s an intentional water-related pun.) Even though you can’t adequately plunge those icy depths to access the rest of that ice mountain, I believe just knowing it’s there and being careful how you navigate around it can be extremely helpful.
That comes in the form of not making assumptions about how your friend’s grief should look. It’s allowing them space to still hurt and cry. It’s not telling them they need to move on, or get over this. It’s listening without judgment whenever they do share their heartache with you. And maybe, occasionally, it’s checking in to see how they’re doing, really…
Oh yes, I’m grateful beyond measure for the friends who continue to support me and pray for me – and to the God who’s brought them into my life.
But in the end – it’s ultimately entrusting ourselves to the only One who can truly carry us through this valley.
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.