Deep Grief
By Lysa TerKeurst

“You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy.”
Psalm 30:11 (NIV)

Sometimes when we lose things it causes a temporary panic that rises and falls in a mini-tidal wave fashion. Like earlier this year when I lost my camera with all our ski vacation pictures on it. The panic escalated, crested with some hand wringing and mind racing, and then slowly ebbed away.

But sometimes a loss cuts into your heart so viciously that it forever redefines who you are and how you think. It’s what I call “deep grief.” The kind that strains against everything you've ever believed. So much so you wonder how the promises that seemed so real on those thin Bible pages yesterday, could possibly stand up under the weight of enormous sadness today.

I once stood at the side of a casket too small to accept. Pink roses draped everywhere. And I watched my mom as she lay across the casket, refusing to let go. How could she let go? Part of her heart laid within, so quiet and so still.

I stood paralyzed. Just days ago we were doing everyday things and assuming that all of our lives stretched before us in spans of many, many years. And then suddenly it all stopped. In the flurry of funeral plans and memorial services we all operated on automatic. People were everywhere. Soft chatter filled in the gaps that our stunned silence could not. And enough food was brought in to feed the whole neighborhood.

But eventually people went back to their own lives. The soft chatter dissipated. The food stopped coming. And we were forced to carry on. Only we had deep grief wrapped about us that made our throats feel strangled and our feet stuck in mud.

I remember I tried to go to McDonalds to order a happy meal. But I couldn't. I sat in the drive-through with the speaker spouting words at me I couldn't process. She kept asking if she could take my order.

Yeah, I had an order. Take away my bloodshot eyes. Take away my desire to hurt the doctors that couldn't save my sister. Take away my anger toward God. And then take away my guilt for being the one that lived. I'll take all that with no onions and extra ketchup, please.

I drove away sobbing. How dare they offer happy meals. No one should be happy today. Or tomorrow. Or next year.

This is the reality of deep grief. Even when you love God and believe in His promises. Even when you know without a doubt that you will see your loved one again. Even when you know hope is still there.

It takes time.

It takes wading through an ocean of tears.

It takes finding a possession of your loved one that you thought was lost, and realizing God did that just to comfort you. It takes discovering one day that the sun still shines. It takes being caught off-guard when you catch yourself smiling… only to realize it's okay.

It takes prayer. It takes making the decision to stop asking for answers and start asking for perspective. It takes telling people to please not avoid saying her name - you want to hear it, over and over again.

Then one day you take off the blanket of deep grief. You fold it neatly and tuck it away. You no longer hate it or resist it. For underneath it, wondrous things have happened. Things that could have only come about when Divine hope intersected with a broken world.

And finally you can see years stretching before you once again. You look up, blow a kiss, wipe a tear and find it's still possible to dance. In light of their own recent loss, may we all keep the family of Steven Curtis and Marybeth Chapman in our prayers for all the time it will take them to shed their deep grief and discover their dance again.

Dear Lord, Thank you for assuring us that your principles and promises hold true even when life seems to betray us. We praise You that Your love reaches to any depth we find ourselves in. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Visit Lysa TerKeurst’s blog today to read about how to help a friend that is grieving.

What Happens When Women Walk in Faith by Lysa TerKeurst

Who Holds the Key To Your Heart? by Lysa TerKeurst

Application Steps:
Is there someone in your life who is grieving right now? Visit my blog today for suggestions on how to help. Commit to reaching out to them this week.

Death is a reality of life. So, how can you live more intentionally each day with those you love?

Power Verse:
2 Corinthians 1:2-4, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” (NIV)

© 2008 by Lysa TerKeurst. All rights reserved.


Blogger Unknown said...

I am a mother who had to say goodbye to all of my children at one time. I know the pain of your mother as she hugged the casket. As I kissed each casket before it was put in the ground, I left a piece of me with each child. I didn't have any answers. I do however have a God who loves me and give me Grace each time I ask. The accident happened 6 years ago on Feb. 18th. There are still days that I don't feel that I am going to get through, but I do. I thank you for your words today. Casey, Kevin and Kayla...I love you. Mom

Blogger eph2810 said...

Very powerful post, Lysa! Thank you for sharing your heart and reminding us to keep the Chapman family in our prayers...

Be blessed today as you have blessed me.

Blogger Unknown said...

Powerful, powerful words. Thank you for sharing your heart in this way. Though I have not dealt with this type of grief, I can relate to what you said through the grief I have faced in my life. Thank you for your honesty - it helps me know that it's okay to sometimes wonder of God and struggle with Him myself. Blessings!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lysa: How do you know when it's time to take off that blanket of grief and put it away? It seems that it's been forever that I've been grieving and I'm so weary.

I want to dance again, and laugh again.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for that. I lost my mom last July, almost a year. At first, when I saw people smile at me, I thought "how dare you". My blanket is folded and sits next to me. Everyonce in a while I bring it out and cry and sometimes, like yesterday, I remember something wonderfully funny and the blanket moves a little farther away.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also know what it's like to have this blanket, and to see God so amazing walk through the process of laying the blanket aside. My dad passed away in October, I thought "No one should have to go through this at 23" the week of funerals and visitations seemed like a blur, but now they are behind me, and what I have to hold onto now, is the strength that God used to pull my family and I through it all. . . and with that strength He's given me a story to share, about how He can bring others through some of our darkest times...His Joy unspeakable is amazing...:)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's just about right though I still wear my blanket most days. It's been 9 months since my son, Casey (6), died. I know where he is and I long to be there with him but I haven't wrapped my brain around the fact that it's real yet. I still think it's all a dream and I'm going to wake up any minute and our family will be back the way it was before.

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