Over the last week i’ve been thinking about the concept of grief. Probably because it’s been more relevant recently then before.
As we drove home to Sydney after my aunt’s funeral, Dad and I listened to a podcast by a wonderful women, Nancy Guthrie, who had experienced huge grief. She had a child who lived for 6 months before dying and, after again falling pregnant, her second child also lived for a mere 6 months before God took him home and into his everlasting arms. We cried as we listened to some of the things she talked about. She gave some ‘tips’ for understanding ‘What it’s going to take to get through this.’ Here are some of the things she said:
1: Some forgiving… and more forgiving – people say things (and don’t say things) that make our pain so much harder. ‘Don’t you think now Nancy, it might be time that you move on from your children’s death?’, ‘When are you going to stop playing the cancer card Jeff’?’ or alternatively, they say nothing. Nancy talked about the pain she felt when people didn’t say anything. “It feels like my child’s life was not worth a mention!” She talked about the importance of not keeping a mental ‘list’ as to who says or doesn’t say anything, and at times extending a verbal arm to help those who were stuck for words – “I know you’re very sorry for our loss, Thank you.”
2: Time searching the scriptures – Do not expect that sitting in church week to week will answer the questions that arise from such a devastating loss. Grief pushes us to answer the big questions and, as Nancy says “It’s part of the gift that comes in the package we never would have wanted.”
3: Do not expect that your grief remains front and centre – This is particularly hard if you have cared for someone who has gone through a long illness. You become used to people checking in, praying at bible study, praying at church etc.. While we are stuck in grief, others move on. Be patient and forgiving.
4: Going to the grave will not make you feel close to the one you lost – Take great comfort in this. It feels like a bate and switch commercial. Nancy talked about the fact that she went to the grave so that her daughter wouldn’t feel ignored by her. Later that day her husband turned around and said “Well… do you think she can feel ignored by you?” Going to the grave does not bring you closer to the one you lost. In the grave is their mere body.
5: Serve – you have experienced great pain and loss. Be the first women on the doorstep of those who have had a miscarriage. Be the person who walks into church with the women who’s husband has had an affair and left her. God has gifted you with an understanding of grief, your pain makes you more sensitive to others needs. As you serve, you begin to enter into others sorrow and it easers your own sorrow.
This podcast was a wonderful reminder that we ought to take comfort in the everlasting arms of our heavenly father. And who better to comfort in then the “God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4)
To listen to this podcast, download the podcast app of iTunes and search ‘What’s it going to take to get through this?’ – Nancy Guthrie, The Gospel Coalition.