I’ve come home from another trip. The house is quiet. The occasional soft sigh of my sleeping puppy and the hum of the fridge are the only sounds.
I know I should have my quiet time, journaling, evaluate daily/weekly goals and schedule, start communication and tasks… get the day going.
But here I sit, noticing the burning at the edges of my eyes. Tired from getting in late and restless sleep, maybe even more tired from the familiar emotions that lap at the edges of my conscious.
The kids are settled at college. Again. Fall and all that comes with it is basically here, although amidst it’s-still-August heat. And grief gently presses for its place amidst the plans and purposes of this presently quiet yet very loud moment.
We can try to stop the “like-clockwork” way grief appears; pretend we don’t know it’s coming, then be frustrated when it does.
Much like the pendulum of life, there’s a healthy middle where I can choose to acknowledge… not allow to usurp but also allow space for. I’m learning to carry it, but not allowing it to crush me.
We can sink ourselves into it, pulling it around like a familiar blanket. Curling up and being useless to the world til it passes. (It doesn’t ever really pass, though, does it?)
I’m finding the old adage that it softens with time is untrue. Rather, the image of grief staying the same and me growing bigger is worlds more appropriate. In the growing, I’m able to carry other things as well. But grief still holds space, and I still hold space for it. Sometimes it’s more irritated, a tender wound that needs to be tended to. Other times it’s simply… there.
I’m choosing to live in an intentional exchange. Isaiah 61. I’m holding out my ashes to the One who gives beauty in return. I’m allowing Him to bring the oil of gladness instead of this mourning. I’m fully receptive to the mantle of praise instead of the spirit of heaviness. “Here it is again, God. And I’m holding it out to You again, God. I’m giving You permission to do what You’re already waiting and willing to do, God.”
But in order to exchange something, we must first acknowledge and be aware that we have it. That awareness is everything.
Not a head in the sand, and not pulling it tightly around me. Rather, a knowing this is what I carry and a willingness for the Creator of my capacity to come in and lessen the weight by letting Him carry it. And I get the gift of what He carries and has for me: beauty, joy and praise.
I can try softer with myself and my tasks today, and I can live in the great exchange, grateful I’ve done the daily work to send my roots deep into the One who waters in all seasons.
The shoulds and expectations I have of myself (or that I perceive others have of me) can be softer. I can pause amidst these moments and intentionally exchange, even physically closing my eyes, pulling the grief out of my chest and holding it in front of me. Then picturing the beauty, glad heart and praise being placed into my hands, and I press it into my chest. (They look like treasures, don’t they? So shiny and new.)
I may carry you, grief, but I’m learning to allow God to come and carry you for me. Amidst my ever-broken on this present earth, He will come and be my whole. He champions what He has called me to, His plans and purposes for my life. So I will not be derailed by the heaviness, but lean into learning a new way of carrying it. The one I grieve the loss of would want me (does want me) living in the joy of my purpose and call. And that pushes me press into choosing health and the great exchange and keep taking one step at a time, no matter the pace.
As a grief carrier, I strongly recommend getting the counseling and therapy help someone needs for their circumstances. Grief can be strikingly similar, while also vastly different according to your unique makeup. Healing what you can heal from and learning to healthily carry what will never be “whole” is a journey, and brave is the one who decides to embark on it. The biggest gift we can give to all in our life is pursuing our own mental and emotional health.
For further resources, contact a licensed counselor or therapist near you.