GRIEF DOESN’T JUST COME WHEN PEOPLE DIE
Yesterday was a hard day – a day when pain and nausea nagged and taunted me the whole day, when grief washed over me in waves reminding me of loss, of restriction, of the shackles of chronic illness.
Grief doesn’t just come when people die, though that is one of the worst kinds of grief. Grief comes wherever there is the loss of things important to us.
THERE IS A LOT OF LOSS WITH CHRONIC ILLNESS
Grief brings anxiety, an inner pain that takes your breath away, a deep sense of loss and forced change, a feeling of being out of control, of not knowing what the future will look like.
The grief is real – yet so unwelcome.
Grief is the uninvited visitor who barges in, brutally reminding you of every loss. You fight it, resist it, and want to chase it away. Sometimes you can refocus and remember all the good things left to enjoy, but some days the battle rages as you dodge wave after wave after unrelenting wave.
SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO ALLOW YOURSELF TO LAMENT
You want to scream, cry, and shout out all your pain, heartache, and the weariness of constant battle. You don’t want to live like this. This is not how it was meant to be. You don’t have the energy to keep facing this kind of pain and suffering – but you can do nothing but wade through the waves in search of peace.
Sometimes you have to grieve. Sometimes you must allow yourself to lament as David did in the Psalms. Yes, sometimes you have to face the reality of the struggle, say how much it hurts, acknowledge how unfair it feels, and speak the REALITY.
GRIEF IS A PAINFUL WORD
Grief is a painful word and an even more painful feeling – a reminder of how things used to be, how you hoped they would remain, who you thought you were and would be, the life you had in mind.
A significant part of my life died five years ago. My health shattered after one fall. I have forgotten what good health feels like. I don’t remember how it feels to have a body and brain that work normally without constant pressure and pain in my head and spine, screaming for attention, pulling me to distraction.
Still, I want to be present, focusing fully on the people I’m with and the things I need to do, but this illness keeps shouting at me, demanding my attention. It is a relentless noise in the background of everything I do.
MY LIFE STILL HAS PURPOSE AND MEANING
Sometimes I need to speak out the grief, the pain, the shame, the constant distraction, the exhaustion. When those waves of grief come, I am learning to let them BE for a moment – to acknowledge and voice them until I can find the strength to re-frame, refocus, and SEE the beauty still here.
Gratitude helps me focus on the wonder around me. I am grateful for my loving husband and family, a beautiful home, food on the table, and amazing friends. I rejoice in the opportunity to write, encourage and teach, to make a difference in someone’s life, to love and be loved. I strive to allow my pain to produce a deeper sensitivity to others’ pain and to remember that my life has purpose and meaning despite its debilitation.
Sometimes We Have to Let the Waves of Grief Come
This is not easy. The theory is sound. The practice can be hard. Grief can be suffocating, distressing, disconcerting, disconnecting. It can paralyze us by attacking our confidence, peace, mental stability, and the ability to recognize our purpose and worth – but in facing and accepting grief, we can also learn to find a new way forward.
Published at beckyhillblog.com Feb. 2020. Adapted and published with permission.
Chronic Joy® Contributing Writer
Becky lives in Leicester, UK, and is a wife to Matt, mum to two girls, and a pursuer of Christ. Becky and Matt love the local church and have been involved in pastoral ministry for many years. In January 2015, Becky fell from a step ladder causing a debilitating cerebrospinal fluid leak and chronic arachnoiditis which means over the years she has had to spend much of her time in bed. She also lives with severe daily neurological pain. Becky loves words and writes to connect, encourage, share her journey, and inspire others facing suffering, chronic illness, and pain.