The Repetition of Seasonal Grief

“While these ‘invasions of pain’ appear to prevent us from moving forward, they actually play a large role in our growth, renewal and recovery.”

The most brilliant greens have taken over the Iowa landscape. The farmers have been hard at work preparing their fields for planting. Perfect rows of tiny green shoots have taken over, and soon it will be time for harvest. All in due time.

While the origin of “green shoots” is associated with plant growth, I find its meaning particularly insightful as it also describes the process and ultimate endgame for those of us coping with loss; “any sign of growth, recovery, renewal.” We want this don’t we?

We’re always in the middle of some sort of ‘season’ in our lives; Family, marriage, children, jobs, etc. If you’re grieving you may find yourself revisiting your loss from time to time.  I don’t know about you, but I had no idea my grief would ebb and flow in a way that would jumpstart my pain over and over again. I’ve never experienced anything like this, ever!

The heart keeps track of everything associated with our loss. Sporadic seasons of grief will invade our life.  It might be brought on by a song on the radio.  It may hit you on your loved ones birthday or anniversary of their death. It can be brought on just about any time, on any day.  You can’t shake it off. (I’m picturing The Pink Panther walking under a cloud right now.)  You just feel it clinging to you.

God knows when it’s time to slowly bring the dormant grass, flowers and so on back to life after a long Iowa winter. Surely He loves us enough to do the same for us… I know He does.

While these ‘invasions of pain’ appear to prevent us from moving forward, they actually play a larger role in our growth, renewal and recovery. Our job in this whole process? Persevere. Go to God. Pray. Study the scriptures for sustainment and encouragement. Get help. Call your pastor. Talk things out with a trusted friend. Make arrangements to visit with a grief counselor if you need to.

Romans 5:3b-5

“…because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us.” 

Ecclesiastes 3: 1, 4

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under Heaven; a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance.”

God is not surprised by our seasons of grief, or any other season in our lives for that matter. Are you enjoying a brief reprieve from your sadness, or are you fighting your way out from under a cloud? You don’t need to go it alone.

Dear friend,

The seasons of grief we experience are a continuation of the journey we’re currently on and will always be on.  I pray you will embrace the seasonal clouds when they come, and rejoice when they dissipate. There is a time for both.  Having faith in God isn’t easy, but when we persevere, we can count on Him to grow us, help us to recover and renew us along the way. Continue to persevere. Get to know God. Read the Bible. Cry out to Him and cling to His promises. Don’t give up on God.

The weight of Mother’s Day

“…what follows will shift your focus from the brick in your pocket toward the joy of the day…” 

The heaviness felt on this day is challenging for those who have lost a child or a Mother.

The commercials started a couple of weeks ago. Facebook will soon be inundated with celebratory pics and that’s the way it should be. So, how can we navigate our hearts to celebrate with others while also carrying the deep weight of our loss?

This is a question we’re faced with all the time isn’t it? Life goes on and we need to keep up, but this requires balancing our pain in the process. Does it ever go away?

In the movie Rabbit Hole, Nicole Kidman’s character tragically loses her son.  She asks her mother, who’d lost her son 11 years ago the same question, “Does it ever go away?” The mother describes it this way,

“No. I don’t think it does. But it changes though…the weight of it. At some point it becomes bearable.  It turns into something that you can crawl out from under and…carry around like a brick in your pocket. And you, you even forget it, for a while. But then you reach in for whatever reason and – there it is. Oh right, that. Which could be awful – not all the time. Not that you’d like it exactly, but it’s what you’ve got instead of your son. So you carry it around, and it doesn’t go away which is fine actually…”

I’m not sure if the writer wrote this response from personal experience but its stuck with me. Fictional or not, it’s a great word picture.

Mother’s Day will look different for everyone. For me, I will acknowledge the heaviness of the day. I’ll grab the oversized card my son David gave me seven years ago, a month before he died. I’ll read and re-read it. I was loved. He is missed every day. Tears and prayers will follow.

Then, I’ll release my hold on the brick and embrace the joy right in front of me; spending time with my son Daniel who graduates from college this weekend. (There may or may not be a bullhorn involved during the formal ceremony. Just sayin.) Family and friends will gather for BBQ, cake and hugs. Tears and prayers will follow. What better way to spend Mother’s day? Beautiful.

Dear Friend,

Take time for yourself to feel whatever you’re feeling.  Don’t ignore it. Reflect with sweet remembrance of your Mother, son or daughter. I’m praying what follows will shift your focus from the brick in your pocket toward the joy of the day, as you celebrate with the people you love and who love you. Beautiful.


Another Missed Birthday

“..the tears of anguish I shed today ultimately feed my soul because I know that Jesus holds each precious tear in His hand.”

(revised from a 2013 entry on October 4)

Rain washes over the trees and flowers giving them strength and nourishment to thrive in between each necessary rainfall. I believe the same is true when we allow ourselves to grieve the loss of those we love and miss. It needs to happen.

We need to give ourselves permission to feel the pain in our loss, mourn what will never be and allow the emotional floodgates to open up to express all that is bottled up inside us. It will come out one way or another. Maybe tears are replaced by anger, bitterness or wavering faith. Whatever this looks like for you, don’t ignore what your feeling.

When the gale force winds have pounded my heart, trampled my spirit and made me questions God’s goodness, I have also, simultaneously felt the gentle rains of God’s grace and overwhelming mercy as He lovingly guides me through the storm…It’s an odd duo isn’t it? We often think that God isn’t with us during those difficult times, when in fact, He is.

As odd as it may seem, the tears of anguish I shed today ultimately feed my soul because I know that Jesus holds each precious tear in His hand. So once again I cry out to God in prayer. I’m thankful for the sustaining strength and nourishment God has given to me in the past. Surely He will help me on this day too.

This is a sad day. I miss David so much. In my daily brokenness I still have to cultivate my faith. I can’t phone it in. It takes effort. What will that look like today? I will spend uninterrupted time allowing the tears to flow and will spend time in prayer, pouring out my heart to God. He’s heard it before but that’s okay. He wants me to go to Him.

If I’m smart I’ll go to God’s Word and re-visit the promises I’ve learned since losing David and claim them all over again. I may even re-read earlier journal entries to see how God has continued to sustain me since that dreadful day in June of 2010. God is still here with me. He hasn’t gone anywhere. He is with me today as I fall apart and He is with me always.

Dear friend,

I don’t know what you’re struggling with today, but I pray as you walk through it you will cling to God, knowing that this sort of cleansing must happen. Draw near to God.  Let His grace wash over you just like the rain nourishes the trees. Soak it in dear friends. Soak it in.

PROMISES: James 4:8