I’m no stranger to grief. Over the years she has settled in and become as familiar as the feeling left by side splitting laughter or a chat with a dear friend.
Over the years, I’ve grieved diagnoses and death, the loss of parents and babies and friendships and jobs. I’ve grieved painful circumstances and unfulfilled dreams, unmet expectations and painful betrayals.
I’ve willed my body out of bed on especially hard mornings and cried myself to sleep with missing at night. I’ve waded through days in a fog of heartache and navigated the yearning of circumstances I can’t change.
And there, deep in the middle of seasons of grief, I’ve discovered who my people are.
They are kind and lovely and don’t shy away from hard and messy circumstances which make many folks run away.
They come bearing casseroles and magazines and games to entertain children.
They don’t say – “Let me know how I can help.” But, they see what you need and they do it before you know to ask.
These people aren’t born in a vacuum. They are born through the long painful labor of their own loss and suffering.
In her years of studying grief, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross observed,
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern.”
These beautiful people are grace givers. They are listeners. They are ready to lay down an afternoon of plans to serve a friend or a neighbor who is struggling. They don’t give pep talks or platitudes, but are willing to sit beside you in the pit of your own despair. These beautiful people hold out their hands to help you stand on your wobbly legs and take the first step forward into a new normal.
So dear friend if you are knee deep in a season of grief today, I pray you’d be surrounded by a tribe of beautiful people who have been refined by their own grief and suffering, and I pray that you’d know that beauty is waiting on the other side of grief.
“To all who mourn in Israel, he will give a crown of beauty for ashes, a joyous blessing instead of mourning, festive praise instead of despair. In their righteousness, they will be like great oaks that the LORD has planted for his own glory.” Isaiah 61:3