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Surprised by Grief.

If you have encountered grief as most of us have, and if you haven’t it is guaranteed that you will eventually, then you know that you are never ready for it. 

The shifting of your world as news of cancer, death, and loss hit your ears and then settles into your mind cascading dreams on the rocks named broken. In that moment, everything changes and where life will again return to some version of normal, even happy, the journey of grief you have embarked on will change you forever. 

These moments in my own life are chiseled in the memory of my mind. Standing in a tiny kitchen as a nurse told me that my blood confirmed what I already knew to be true but didn’t want to believe, I had lost the baby. Sitting in an ultrasound room surrounded by my husband and three girls as the once smiling, seasoned tech locked her eyes with mine and shook her head. We were to learn if we were adding another girl to our family but instead I went to the hospital and labored to birth a baby that had passed in my womb. A crowded bus and a phone call telling me that my GG was in the hospital instead of on her birthday trip. Answering the phone and hearing my dad on the other end, while safe in my room, he put the dreaded word “tumor” in the same sentence as “Mom”. 

This week my community was surprised by grief again when a young mom, 32 weeks pregnant, had a horrific accident and both mom and baby lost their lives. 

There is no explaining circumstances like this away. There is no reason that mamas get cancer, babies die before they are born, and accidents take lives. But these things happen and in their wake we are left to pick up the pieces of our lives, of our hearts, and of our faith. 

Life is vast and deep, full of depth. The warm waters of the shore, the dangerous and beautiful moments of a storm, the cold of the deep. This is where grief lands us, I think. Plunges us down into the dark, we feel we can’t breathe, we can’t see the sun, some days you wonder if it is worth it to fight to the surface. 

I don’t have any pat answers today. I can’t make it better. I can’t fix your pain, it is something you must live through and feel and friend, I am so sorry. It will become a part of your story, you will be better because you hurt if you allow grief to do it’s softening work producing soul connecting compassion in you for others. I guess today I simply want to call it out as it’s surprising nature is often something that causes us to act awkward and unsure. We don’t want to think it will turn it’s face to us and so we don’t know how to deal when it touches those close to us. 

This past week my friends are posting about babies lost, in my memories I am reminded of when we started the Caring Bridge site for my mom. My family lost a dear close friend and a daddy is crying for his wife and child. These people, the hurting, they want to be seen and heard. Grief is valuable and cries out to be recognized, so will you?

Can we choose compassion? Can we listen to their story, again? Can we hug and sit and cry and choose presence? Can we say that the person or thing lost mattered? Can we give value to the dashed dream by admitting the disappointment of an altered future?

Loss is a part of life. It can be stopped for a time, waylaid, but eventually we all will experience loss. It doesn’t mean our faith is misplaced in a God who doesn’t care. The sweetness that can come out of loss when we turn our face to the Eternal One is a testimony to a God who is present in pain and turns mourning into dancing. 

With tears in my eyes, I wish I could squeeze your shoulders. Sit with you and listen to your story. Validate your grief. Because grief shared truly makes it lighter. And a friend is like an arm reaching into the depths that grief threw you into, pulling you back towards the surface, taking the edge off of the surprise.

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