Tag Archives: Grief

Love and Grief

It has taken me a lifetime to understand the relationship between these two.

The first time I recall experiencing profound grief was in my 30s, when a dear friend moved away. The physical heartache I felt was new, and I wasn’t really sure what to call it. I ached for her company, not realizing I was grieving the loss of her presence in my life.

When my father died, I was in my 30s. The physical ache was almost unbearable, and I lacked the words to explain it to my three young children. There was an unfillable void in my life, and I wasn’t yet sure how to process it. My faith brought me comfort, but I still wandered through the physical feelings. It was the first time I understood the meaning of ‘heartache.’

Years later I lost my mother, and the pain returned in a more profound way. I don’t need to explain that pain to anyone who has lost their mother, and I can’t explain it to anyone who hasn’t. I muddled through the stages of mourning in a bit of a fog, accepting each one without really understanding it.

But it was when my husband was deployed for a year with the military that I gained the needed perspective on love and grief. One of my boys was crying because he missed his dad. I started to cry, too, and soon the four of us were huddled together, crying and comforting simultaneously. I remember the words clearly because they changed me. I commented that there are some families who wouldn’t be sad if their dad went away for a year. “Aren’t we lucky that we love each other so much that it hurts when we’re apart.”

For the first time I understood that the pain I had experienced before was grief.

It was then that I realized that love and grief are felt in equal measure.

Since that day I embrace grief. I am grateful that my life is so rich and full of love that the loss of something or someone hurts.

I remind myself that there are people who don’t feel that.

And I let the tears fall.

Transforming Grief

Yesterday was a rough day for me and Mr. Wonderful.  We attended two funerals.  Two funerals for men about our age.  Two wives much like me burying their husbands, children much like ours saying goodbye to their dad.  Two mothers grieving for their sons.

It was hard.  And by the end of the day, I was in a very contemplative mood.  Once we got home I began to recall the words I’d heard earlier, promising myself to find the lesson in them, and to put it to use.  It was the only gift I had left to offer the two friends I’d said goodbye to.

My mind went to something a friend recently posted on Facebook.  It was a message about good intent being of little value if not backed up with action.  I thought about all the times I say I’m going to do something, and don’t.  Specifically about all of the times I tell friends we need to get together, but never do.  I let the trivial actions of my days take over, and my well-intentioned invitations go to the back burner until next week.

That’s not good enough.  I have to do better.  Because I was reminded yesterday that next week doesn’t come for everyone.

So I’m challenging myself – and you – to think about the separation that sometimes occurs between feelings and intentions and actions.  And close the gap.  I want to reduce the regret I have over phone calls I don’t get around to making, visits that I’ve left unscheduled.  I want to know that I’ve offered my hand to those in need.  I don’t want anyone to wonder whether or not I love them.

In the Lord’s Prayer we say “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  The Golden Rule speaks of action: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  It is clear that God intends for us to receive in the manner in which we first give.

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It’s not enough to love someone.  You must tell them.  You must show them.

It’s not enough to feel compassion.  You must reach out to those who are in need.  You must touch them.

It’s not enough to foster relationships that are easy.  We must find the good in others, even if it is buried deep.

It’s not enough to love God.  We must live according to His word, and be disciples of that word.