Grief: Mercy in the Abyss

Grief: Mercy in the Abyss

“For in grief nothing ‘stays put.’ One keeps on emerging from a phase, but it always recurs. Round and round. Everything repeats. Am I going in circles, or dare I hope I am on a spiral?

But if a spiral, am I going up or down it?

How often–will it be for always?–how often will the vast emptiness astonish me like a complete novelty and make me say, ‘I never realized my loss till this moment’? The same leg is cut off time after time.”

 

C.S. Lewis

The Barren Land of Grief

The presence of grief is felt thick and its roots are deep in the hidden places of our soul. It is a spiraling entity that immobilizes us and causes us to ache for what once was…or for that which never had been. Grief spirals us into a land barren and unknown.

Where it is lodged secretly, no one knows of its depths. Not even the most intimate of relationships are aware of its overwhelming presence. We find comfort in the pain. We draw strength from the agony, but our light flickers dim as the darkness overtakes every nook and cranny of our grieving being. The comfort and strength gained wanes and becomes our undoing. The grief paralyzes.

“It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things; He knows what is in the darkness, And the light dwells with Him.”

Daniel 2:22

We hold tight to our comfortable uncomfortable, as grief has become part of our essence. But He who is light brings out the darkness. Nothing is hidden from His embodiment of knowledge. He sees our grief buried–our secret made known. He sees the darkness that has crept in, the grief that has taken hold. He knows what is in the darkness…and He offers us light.

For the grief-burdened soul, there is hope in the Gospel message.

When brokenness entered that once-perfect garden, it also birthed grief into a once joyful and peaceful place. We often speak of our rescue from sin, of a Savior who died bearing the weight of our iniquities. But do we not also share that the day sin and shame were hurled onto the beaten body of Perfection hanging on a cross, so also was the enormous weight of all that is broken dumped heavily and fully onto the Sacrificial Lamb. Grief, in its complete form, crushed He who was Hope and Joy.

For what?

For the sake of mercy…for the sake of hope and joy complete.

Finding Comfort in Jesus

In knowing that Christ carried our grief fully on the cross, we can now find comfort as He walks through waters dark with us. Knowing that He defeated grief through His death and resurrection, we can now find hope in a rescue from its prison. When our vulnerable bodies can fall onto bruised knee and stretch out shaky hands in surrender, He will meet us in our state of fragility and hold us close. He is the balm that heals our broken heart. His love saturates deep as it fills complete.

“When I survey the occurrences of my life, and call into account the finger of God, I can perceive nothing but an abyss and mass of mercies.”

Sir Thomas Browne

Is that, then, the hope in grief? Are the feelings of emptiness and the bone-deep aches drawing us into His place of mercy? It is then that we find all we lost is recovered that much more in His redemption. Do we dare hope to feel again, laugh again…do we dare hope to live again? Is grace so strong that it restores the soul tattered and torn by grief’s long reign? In the mass of mercies given, there is such an amazing grace.

“When I survey the occurrences of my life, and call into account the finger of God, I can perceive nothing but an abyss and mass of mercies.” - Sir Thomas Brown (3)

A New Perspective

The grace received brings on new perspective. Our grief buried can be His peace resurrected. Letting go is scary and hard. When the pain does not drench into our pores, we feel as if we might have betrayed. But to live is not to forget. Our life for His glory, our sadness for His joy, our emptiness for His fullness–this is when and how He walks in the grief with us. He beckons us close and He breathes life into our soul. We can ache for that which we grieve, because in the aching we can surrender. We surrender our grief to the One who knew the ultimate grief on the cross. So then, we do not abandon grief itself. Instead, we allow it to be made full through His mass of mercies–allow it to draw us deeper into the heart of God.

“The deepest things that I have learned in my own life have come from the deepest suffering. And out of the deepest waters and the hottest fires have come the deepest things that I know about God.”

 

Elisabeth Elliot

Writing for Healing

Writing for Healing

Toni was born and raised in a small town in Oklahoma.She graduated from East Central University with a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Economics.After college, she returned to her hometown to marry her best friend, Charles.Toni is a stay at home mom to their three teens, two boys and a girl, whom God led them to homeschool.Her goal is to raise her children to love and serve the Lord.They live on a farm where they grow produce to sell at several farmers markets.She also plays the piano at church and teaches piano.
Latest posts by Toni D (see all)

Believe it or not, I’m not an avid writer.

I did not enjoy writing in college and never thought I would do it in my spare time.

A few years ago, my opinion of writing changed.  I had lost my grandfather for whom I had been a primary caregiver for several years.  At the time, this was the most difficult thing I had ever experienced because I had not dealt with prior grief.  If one does not deal with grief when it occurs, it continues to build and just gets worse.

Healing through Writing

While I was attending a grief support group, the facilitator, a wonderful Christian woman, suggested that I write my feelings in letter form to those who had caused me pain and anger, including my grandfather.  I was not to mail these letters, just to write them.  I thought this woman was crazy.  What good was it to write a letter? How would I find healing from my grief through a letter?

After being told this several times, I decided to try it.  Nothing was helping me cope and I knew my emotions were building.  One day, I sat down with a notebook and pen and started to write, and the words just poured out.  I wrote with such intensity and fury.  I didn’t know where it was all coming from.  In twenty minutes, I wrote eight pages to three people.  The emotional release I felt was unbelievable.  Everything came out.  It really did work!

Since that day, I continue to use this method for other issues in my life.  I often go back and add Bible verses in the margins when applicable.  I have even written letters to God.  This is my new-found therapy.  Pen and paper are a lot cheaper than a therapist!

If you are afraid of someone reading the letter, you can burn or shred it when you are finished.  I found that to be another healing aspect.  It symbolizes letting go.

Releasing Our Anger and Emotions

Remember, anger hurts us.  It separates us from God.  Satan is always trying to find ways to destroy us.  Ephesians 4:26-27 says,

“Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and do not give the devil an opportunity.”

We need to let our emotions out, not bottle them up.

Do you have an issue you can’t let go?

Dedicated to the One in the Midst of Grief

Dedicated to the One in the Midst of Grief

Wife, mom, daughter, teacher, blogger, crafter, organizer - but most and best of all, I am a Christian. I am passionate about my family and my God. I am married to my best friend and am blessed with a one year old son who keeps me busy all the time staying at home with him. And I am glad to be in the service of our incredible and awesome God.
Tracy Watts

My dear one,

I wish I could say or do something to make this all go away for you. I know that your heart is breaking–that it shattered into a thousand tiny pieces. And that right now, in the midst of grief, it seems that nothing makes sense anymore. I don’t have any words or tricks for you. I have no magic balm that can make things as they were before.

And grief is such a terrible, ugly monster.

It rears its ugly head at the strangest of times. It is crippling and stifling and healing all at once. Sometimes, grief grabs you at the grocery store when you think you catch a glimpse of your loved one walking past. Or sometimes, it creeps up on you in the darkness of the nighttime and steals away rest and sleep. Sometimes, it breaks you.

 

My dear one, know that I hurt with you.In the Midst of Grief

Not in the same way, but I hurt for the pain I see you are feeling. I know that you are grieving the past and the present, thinking bittersweetly of the memories you made. Of all you felt and did. But I know, too, that you grieve for the future that was lost. For all the times of “could have” and “would have.” Of all the special moments you will miss and experience without them.

I want you to know that prayers are lifted for you. Not just by me, but by many others. Some you would expect– and some not. I want you to know that all you have to do is ask. There are a dozen loving hands who will reach out and grasp your hand. Who will wash your dishes or bring you food. Who will sit with you and cry with you and remember with you.

And the God you question, the God to whom you cry out and rail at, the God you feel anger, grief, and confusion towards–that God is the only one who can put the pieces of your heart back together. Not in a short moment, but slowly, gradually. A process. As a potter who melts down his pot and painstakingly, carefully spins and shapes and reshapes.

Dear one, I love you. But more importantly, God loves you.

May you feel the comfort and the nearness of His presence in this moment and for all eternity.

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and-the-god-you-question-that-god-is-the-only-one-who-can-put-the-pieces-of-your-heart-back-together

Be encouraged by these posts as well!

Grief: Mercy in the Abyss Grief and Health Never Cease to Prayse How to Help Those Going through Divorce

My Precious Baby: The Grief of Miscarriage

My Precious Baby: The Grief of Miscarriage

Toni was born and raised in a small town in Oklahoma.She graduated from East Central University with a Bachelor's of Science Degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Economics.After college, she returned to her hometown to marry her best friend, Charles.Toni is a stay at home mom to their three teens, two boys and a girl, whom God led them to homeschool.Her goal is to raise her children to love and serve the Lord.They live on a farm where they grow produce to sell at several farmers markets.She also plays the piano at church and teaches piano.
Latest posts by Toni D (see all)

Seems Like Yesterday

It was the day before Thanksgiving 1996 but it seems like yesterday.  After two years of fertility treatments, we finally conceived.  When the doctor’s office called and moved up my first appointment after my initial lab, I knew something was wrong.  I put it out of my mind and headed off to the doctor’s office by myself.  (My husband had a previously scheduled meeting that he could not reschedule.)  As I got closer to her office, I started having a sick feeling in my stomach.

My doctor came in and asked some questions.  She said that she wanted to go ahead and do an ultrasound because I had had so many problems conceiving.  I kept telling myself that everything was fine.  The ultrasound technician asked more questions as she did the ultrasound and then asked if the doctor wanted to see me again.  She went to get my doctor.  They came back in and my doctor took my hand and told me that there was no heartbeat.  I was 11 weeks along.  I had waited for this baby for two years and now my baby was dead.  She was wrong, I told her, and we needed to wait and see.

She sent me home to decide on when to do the D&C.  My husband and I were devastated and cancelled our Thanksgiving plans.  He notified our family.  Later that evening, my sister-in-law called and told me about her previous miscarriage.  This helped more than anything.  Talking with someone that has experienced the same thing helps so much.

Going Through the Week in a Blur

The next morning, Thanksgiving Day, I woke up having cramps (contractions).  I knew that was not a good sign.  I tried to fix dinner for the two of us and that is when I miscarried.  We followed the doctor’s instructions.  I do not remember the rest of the day; the rest of the week was a blur.  I tried to do normal things like work and church but that made it worse.  Everyone had good intentions, but if you have never experienced this type of loss, sometimes it is better for others to say nothing.

So many people told me, “Oh, you’ll have another one.”  But I had waited for two years.  I did not want another one, I wanted that one.   We had tried for two years, and now this.  Or, “It happens more than you think.”  Just because it happens to others did not change my pain.  I knew other people go through this, but I was the one going through this now.  My favorite was, “Well you have another child.”  I did not!  She had me confused with my sister!  Like that would make a difference anyway.  One child is not a substitute for one that has been lost.  I know they meant well but these are NOT things to say to someone who just lost their baby.

Empathy Through Tragedy

I learned so much from this tragedy in my life.  It gave me an empathy that I had not had before.  Now, when I find out someone has miscarried, I say, “I’m sorry.  I know what you are going through.  I’ve been through it.  If you need to talk, I’m here,” then I give her a hug.

Remember the husband; he is grieving, too.  Give him a hug.  It is just as difficult for him as it is for his wife.  Too often, the men get overlooked.  They not only just lost a baby but they feel like they must be strong for their wives.  My husband tried so hard to protect me.  He hated seeing me so upset.

If the woman miscarried at home (not through D&C), she has physically gone through labor.  Many people do not realize this.  I had contractions and went through the entire birthing process.  It was not as intense as a full-term pregnancy, but it was the entire process, nonetheless.  This is still what haunts me.

Some people do not realize that a baby has been lost.

Even some people who are pro-life look at miscarriages as an illness and not a loss.  Miscarriages are not looked at as a death by most.  It is!  Just because we do not get to physically hold our babies does not make them any less real. There is no funeral to help say goodbye and have closure.  We have experienced a loss.  We must grieve.  I tried to ignore what had happened.  That just led to more problems later.  I encourage you to join a support group or seek grief counseling if you have been through this.  I waited over ten years before dealing with it.  This only compounded my other issues of grief.  It was only through grief counseling after the loss of my grandfather, that I realized I had not dealt with the grief of my miscarriage.

My miscarriage still affects me.  I wonder about the child that might have been.  Was it a boy or girl?   Would he be in college?  What would she look like? And, so many other questions.  What I do know is that I will someday see my precious baby in Heaven.  I also know that God has since given me three wonderful children.  I love them more than I ever thought I could.

We all deal with loss in different ways.

Some want to commemorate the loss and appreciate when a friend remembers with them.  For some, it is a private matter that they want to remember alone and move on.  For others still, it is a combination of things.  If you know someone that has had a miscarriage, just ask them if you can do something.  They will let you know where the boundaries are.  I do not mind talking about it, but be prepared for me to cry.  Do not let the tears make you uncomfortable.  Sometimes all we need is a hug and the knowledge that you are there.

If you have experienced a loss, please share your thoughts, experience or how others helped you?

You may also commemorate and honor your child here.

Witnessing Christ in Action

Witnessing Christ in Action

I’m Lana, a native Oklahoman. Married 17 years to the first boy I ever dated. Mama to two amazing, darling girls. I’m a coffee-drinking, book-reading, home-educating night owl! An accountant in my life B.C. (Before Children), my dream job would be getting paid to read all day.And if you’re into Meyers-Briggs personality tests, I’m an ISTJ. Most important of all, I’m a follower of Christ.

Witnessing The Hands and Feet of Christ

This past week, a terrible tragedy struck the congregation where I grew up.  A young mother of two suddenly passed away from complications of a rare blood disorder. Waves of shock and grief quickly rippled through her circle of family and friends.  But in the midst of this horrible event, I have been witnessing the church living out their calling to be the hands and feet of Jesus.

When the news first came out that this woman was fighting for her life, I saw a call to prayer go out all across social media.  I saw Christians immediately respond, both with written and spoken prayers.  I saw people drop what they were doing and drop to their knees, pleading with the Father on behalf of someone they didn’t even know.

When word came that she had lost her physical battle, again I saw many praying. Anguished prayers of hurt and sorrow. Intercessory prayers for comfort for her loved ones. Joyful prayers of thanksgiving that she would receive her heavenly reward.  Hopeful prayers that God would be glorified through this trial.

I witnessed her friends comforting each other.  Older women encouraging and mothering the younger women.  Acquaintances sharing memories of how she had touched their lives.

And I saw the church spring into action, stepping in to help care for her children, to bring meals, to provide for whatever the family might need immediately and in the days to come.

“Mourn with those who mourn.” (Romans 12:15)

On Sunday morning, I sat in the pew, surrounded by fellow Christians.  As we sang, prayed, and worshiped our God, I saw the pain on faces around me. But once again, I witnessed what it means to live in community, to let Christ shine through their compassion on each other.

Hands and Feet of Jesus

Men prayed for this family.  Tissues were passed to wipe tears away.  Scriptures were read, reminding us all of the hope we have of heaven.  Friends shared hugs, husbands tenderly consoled their wives, and parents cuddled their children just a little longer that morning.

Later, I witnessed elders and other men of the congregation surrounding this young man who had just lost his wife.  They laid their hands on him, prayed over him, and wept with him.

Perhaps the most touching sight was a young teen who left her pew and went to where the children sat.  As tears streaked their faces, she hugged them, wiped away their tears, and stayed with them for the rest of the service.  At that moment, the authenticity of these Christians’ faith struck me.  Their compassion was evident to all, from the oldest members to the youngest.

In the midst of a terrible situation, I have witnessed the church, both near and far, act as the hands and feet of Jesus Christ.  From physical needs to emotional support to spiritual comfort, these people made manifest the true work of the church.  As 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NLT) says:

All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.

Spur One Another On

Although I did not personally know this young mother, her passing has impacted and influenced my faith.  By witnessing how the local church stepped up and ministered to her family and friends, it has given me a greater desire to likewise minister to those around me who are hurting.

I pray that the Holy Spirit will guide each of us to consider how we may encourage one another and that we, the body of Christ, may become his hands and feet, spurring one another on toward love.

hands and feet of jesus

Witnessing the hands and feet of Jesus

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