Our guest blog today comes from Beks.
As I start to write I suddenly feel very unqualified to write on this subject of grief. I have experienced loss, I have experienced unfulfilled longings, I have experienced
disappointments and dashed hopes but does this allow me to talk with any sense of authority on grief. It is such a personal emotion, it comes with different stories, with different expressions. It is not something to be compared or graded or ‘done right’ or ‘done wrong’. We can feel like we have walked through our process of grief and then we wake up one morning and feel overwhelmed once again by a sense of loss and brokenness. It feels as fresh as the day it happened and all at once we feel that we are right back where we started angry, confused, unable to see what God is doing, unable to see his goodness, unable to ‘rise to the occasion’ of trusting Him and testifying to his faithfulness because the truth is we can’t see it. We might think ‘now is the time I should be rejoicing in the midst of suffering’, to be praising God despite our circumstances and yet all we feel is that we are hanging on by our fingertips. We are desperately trying to remind ourselves that God is good, that he has not forgotten us, but we feel like we are sinking, we are sad, we cry, we hide under our duvets.
We are desperately trying to remind ourselves that God is good, that he has not forgotten us, but we feel like we are sinking, we are sad, we cry, we hide under our duvets.Tweet
I have mostly been completely unprepared for my times of most intense grief. It is not always the anniversaries, or mother’s days. It is when I’m watching a film, reading a book, even buying clothes, times of transition when she is the one person in the whole world that I want to share the moment with. Even almost sixteen years later she can be the only person I want to talk to, to hug, to cry on, to laugh with, even to thrash things out with, the only one I trust with the emotions I’m feeling. And the truth is that God isn’t always the one I turn to in these times. It can sometimes take me days or weeks before I can pray and find comfort in the truth of scripture. I feel so challenged by people who are able to do this because it is not always my story.
I guess in these days especially, we are experiencing some sort of shared grief in the sense of the loss of what was and the uncertainty of what will beTweet
I guess in these days especially, we are experiencing some sort of shared grief in the sense of the loss of what was and the uncertainty of what will be. We can identify with the grief of not seeing people we love, of loneliness, of loss, of being confronted by our mortality and the reality of death in a way we may not have done before. But I wonder what other griefs have been raised by this situation. Yes we have our shared losses, but in my experience a new grief is often a trigger for so many others to come tumbling down around me. I have spent a significant part of the last ten years working with Muslims in the Arab World and last year was moving to another country after having already spent six months there. I had permission to go back and a visa waiting for me but when I arrived at the border I was kept there for six hours and then put on a bus (just me and the driver) and sent back to where I had come from. As I dragged my suitcase back through my friends door I felt utterly broken. It wasn’t just the rejection and the accusations, it was everything. The loss of my mum all those years before, the unfulfilled longings of marriage, of a family, of a home, of the hope that finally I would be settled and I would have a place which was mine. That I would finally be able to accumulate my belongings from three different countries and many different attics. That I would be able to stop living out of a suitcase in a spare room, that I would have a place where I could in some way express the life that I had lived. But that had not happened. It felt like the rug had been swept out from under my feet and all my griefs and disappointments flooded my soul. I did not understand what God had done, what I felt that He had taken away, what I felt that He had denied me. I cried and I could not stop crying.
In that moment I was reminded of something that someone had said to me years ago…’Beks I know you feel like you are clinging on by your fingertips but I want to say to you that there is beauty in the clinging’. That phrase ‘beauty in the clinging’ has come back to me so many times over the years. Not to let go despite what we are experiencing because He is worth it. That even though I might feel like I’m clinging, the truth is that it is Him who is holding me, so tightly. To know that in the depths of our griefs and sorrows there is someone who is there right with us. He is the lifter of our heads, he is the one who will one day wipe every tear from our eyes but he has not wiped them away yet. We can cry because he weeps with us.
He weeps at the brokenness and mess of this world. He is not indifferent to our pain and sufferings.Tweet
He weeps at the brokenness and mess of this world. He is not indifferent to our pain and sufferings. He is the Man of Sorrows, the one acquainted with grief. I have been most confronted by the difference between the god of Islam, and the God we trust and worship, in moments of tragedy and grief. When Muslim mothers are told not to cry for the child they have lost because it is the will of God. Tears that have been wiped away by someone else because they will be displeasing to God. In those moment I have been overwhelmed by the truth that we have a God who has come close, who suffers with us, who has walked our paths and experienced our pain. He is gracious to us in our weakness and our lack of understanding. He grieves with us. We can weep, Jesus wept- for Lazarus; in the garden of Gethsemane. Whatever our stories, whatever the griefs we carry which may be only known to you, we are not alone. Underneath are the everlasting arms and he has promised he will not let us go. He is sufficient for our fears and confusion.These are wonderful, unchanging truths.
Underneath are the everlasting arms and he has promised he will not let us go. He is sufficient for our fears and confusion.These are wonderful, unchanging truths.Tweet
These days we live in are uncertain and isolating but are there people we can trust with our grief? I heard someone say recently that grief is something that should be witnessed. I don’t know exactly what I think about that but in our isolation are there one or two people that we can allow to be witnesses to our grief? Those that we can talk and pray with, or who will commit to praying for us when we don’t have the words. It requires vulnerability but are there one or two who we can allow to remind us of the truth of the Gospel, who can remind us of the Man of Sorrows and the beauty of the cross? But even if we don’t have these people, my prayer is that
we would know that we are not alone. There is one who sees us and knows us even when we may feel unknown and unseen by others. There is one who is putting his arms around us even when others can’t, who cares more than we can possibly imagine for all that we are feeling and experiencing. My prayer is that we would know that we can trust him, that he would give us joy in the midst of our grief because of what he is accomplishing through it and how he might use it in the lives of others. That we would be able to trace the rainbow through the rain because we know that this is not the end of the story. There is a promise. There is hope for our grief. There is beauty in the clinging.
we know that this is not the end of the story. There is a promise. There is hope for our grief. There is beauty in the clinging.Tweet
Hello! My name is Beks. I’m originally from Wales but my base for the last 20 years has been Southampton, where I trained as a nurse and worked in the Emergency Department. I am a member of Above Bar Church and have spent a significant part of the last 10 years working overseas with Arabic speakers.
I would just ask that if you do want to share what I have written here that you wouldn’t tag me just for sensitivity reasons. Thank you!
We have other posts in this series on grief and death in COVID19. Read Jesus ruins death – what do you think?