Living through the seasons of grief.
I received a letter a while back from a woman whose young adult daughter died in an accident. Over the last several months the author of the letter has chosen to “do her grief work.” It all began when she received and read Tear Soup: A Recipe for Healing After Loss by Pat Schwiebert & Chuck DeKlyen and Comfort for the Day, Living Through the Seasons of Grief, by Karen Nicola (me). Here is what the letter writer shared:
“Both books gave me permission to grieve my way. . . I began to know that grieving is a journey and there is light at the end of the tunnel. I am beginning to accept behaviors even if they hurt me because I am realizing we are all grieving for one thing or another. I found out that not only did I need to grieve my daughter, I needed to grieve my own missing childhood and the years I spent in an abusive marriage. I needed to grieve all the years of my life because I never really lived; I only existed within the bubble of my own hurt and struggles. But God is good and even though I am sixty, I am learning to live on a really deep personal level all because my daughter died; which is a terrible thing, and yet I know if she knew how much better I am doing, she would be cheering me on. . . As I have been spending time learning to sort through all the emotional stuff in my life and surrendering it to Christ, my stress level seems to be dropping off and I don’t feel so tightly wound anymore. The ramifications of a changing life are endless!”
The author of this letter has found her way to honor the life and death of her daughter by not allowing the loss to be wasted. She has allowed the grief to work for the better in her life and by doing so, her daughter’s life and death continues to bring healing to this 60 year old courageous griever. This is grief work; the effort it takes to face our pain and find meaning in it. It is the work of a broken heart, that is eventually transformed into a beautiful tender place of compassion for others as well as for ourselves.
What gives you the courage to grieve? How do you know the death of someone you love has not been wasted? In the brief words of the letter writer, what gives you strength or insight?