Three Lessons (I’m Still Learning) From Grief

“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:”  I Peter 1:7

I claimed this verse during the very early months of my grief and it has very often given me a small, but needed, answer to the why’s my heart cried.  Even if I truly never understood all the why’s, my mind could hold onto a sense of purpose.  And, if Christ is to be honored and glorified, there are lessons to continually be learned, no matter how many years I have been living with grief.  Most of the lessons mentioned here, I have learned at least once, if not several times, over the last eleven years but I found myself learning them again the last week or two – so, I thought they should be shared.
ONE – There is no rule book for grieving.  How many times have I wished for a rule book?  Not only am I rule-follower but I am a rule-loving girl.  Rules give me order.  They establish boundaries, balance and a sense of stability.  If I follow the rules, my boat stays upright and can weather even the strongest storms.  When grief completely overturned the boat that was my life, I was desperate for any type of stability. I was desperate for anyone who could just tell me the “ten steps to surviving grief.”
There was no rule book in those early days and there are no rules for handling grief or honoring a loved one years later.  What was helpful and brought healing several years ago might not feel the same, or even be necessary, later.  And that is okay.  The first couple years after Tyler died, we would go off for the day.  Take a day trip.  Mindlessly wander a small town and look through shops.  The mindless part was good.  It kept us just occupied enough but didn’t take thought.  For two or three years in a row, we came across an unexpected treasure which seemed to help mark the years.  In my mind, I made it a rule.  Each August 1st, we will take a day trip.  But the time came when it felt forced and more of a chore than any type of help.  So we stopped – and that’s okay because there really are no rules.
TWO – Everyone grieves differently.  (Perhaps because there are no rules.)  This one was hard to learn in the beginning. Husbands, women, mothers, siblings, teenagers, grandparents, friends, etc. Everyone processes grief differently.  Everyone expresses grief differently.  And, after eleven years, each member of our family has a unique way to remember Tyler and to honor his memory.  That can still be challenging.  One of the hardest things about (self-imposed) rules is wanting to impose them on everyone around you.  Not only does it not work, but it is also just unfair.
THREE – I cannot depend on others, or circumstances, to comfort me or ease my grief. Again, it is unfair for me to expect family, friends or anyone else to know exactly what my heart needs.   Every year, God has used someone, or several someones, to say or do just what my heart needed to be reminded and to know how much He truly cares.  But God does that. I cannot try to make that happen.  If I will allow Him to work, and speak, and care so tenderly for me, I will never be disappointed.  Sadly, I have forgotten that truth more than once over the years.  But, He reminded me again this year.  What special surprises that only He could arrange were gifts this year.  What a faithful, loving and personal God we have!! May He continue to get the praise, and honor and glory!

One thought on “Three Lessons (I’m Still Learning) From Grief

  1. Jennifer, though I don't know much of your story, I am grateful for you sharing here. I haven't lost anyone close to me yet. Reading your words and how you've navigated this difficult aspect of life helps me to begin to grasp what others may be going through, and I'm meditating on it all. I appreciate your three points.

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