By: Danielle Ilacqua (Guest Blogger)
Feeling like I have the scarlet letter “G” on my chest, I push forward in this thing we call life, just short a couple days of the three-month mark of my mom’s passing. It’s uncanny how grief works and everything seems to be magnified yet simplified. The things that normally would roll off my back are now intensified, and the things that I use to worry about now seem to mean absolutely nothing.
A case can be made for the statement “grief definitely changes a person.” I used to see everything in life with immense color and vitality. Holidays were brighter, the sun seemed warmer, laughter was more enjoyable, but now as I traverse through the streets of New York City to get to work, everything and everyone is muted. Grieving is very hard. So many things about life become meaningless. Right now, I see nothing in color but in black and white.
I keep praying God will heal my broken heart and take away the void. “Is this normal?” I ask myself, as the letter G seems to be getting bigger rather than smaller. People told me in the beginning it would hurt, and I would go through several stages, and then finally in the end, I would be a stronger person and the pain wouldn’t be so apparent. But in the short three months of this journey, nothing seems farther from the truth.
The good news is if you feel this way, you are not Hester Prynne and this scarlet letter is going to dissipate one day. Life will never be the same. You will never be the same. But, you WILL heal! Grief is very real and there is no way of escaping it. You can’t go over it or under it, you simply must go through it. Stages of grief are also very real and although we mourn with hope as Christians, we must go through it in order to heal.
There is practical wisdom in our suffering and just like a handyman has a toolbox full of tools to help him work, we too must carry around a set of tools to help us when the wave of grief overwhelms us and we feel like we are caught up in a riptide.
Even when it seems like God is not with us in our darkest and most dry times, we can’t go by what we feel but rather by what we know. Where does this knowledge come from? What are our tools? The word of God.
We know that God is always with us, especially in our darkest hours of our grief because His word says, “I will never leave you or forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5). In fact, in Psalm 139:8, God tells us even if we make our bed in hell he is with us! No veil can hide us from God, not even in the thickness of bitter grief. In Deuteronomy 31:6, Moses assures Israel of the constant presence of God with them: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid … for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
So, what does this all mean practically? All this pain and suffering is not in vain. When no one else understands, know Jesus understands. Remember we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weakness (Hebrews 4:15-16). Approach God’s throne of grace with confidence so that you can receive help in your time of need. Jesus was “despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain” (Isaiah 53:3). Jesus understands OUR pain.
So, the second tool we have is “PRAYER!” Go to God honestly with all your pain, struggles, doubts, fears, desires. Expose yourself to our creator. He knows every hair on our head. In fact, “the very hairs of your head are numbered” (Luke 12:7).
He tells us in Jeremiah 1:5, “I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.” Who knows us better than that? Like the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 13, “How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? …”
Remember, grief is a process. It is normal to feel pain.
But please know this – God will restore the color soon.