As the weather changes throughout the year, we too have seasonal shifts in our lives.
Not only do our surroundings become different, but also our individual growth and relationships alter. What brought this topic of seasons to the surface was that my husband and I are going through a season of grieving.
My husband’s sister, Mindy, recently passed away. Purely accidental, it is still too sudden and unexpected for us to even wrap our minds around.
She was a young woman in her thirties, a registered nurse, and a flight nurse in the military. I’ll admit that this is the first unexpected loss in my life.
I felt familial loss with my parent’s divorce and both grandmothers passing away. I even experienced a loss of control on my life when my career didn’t go the way I had planned it to. Though, these circumstances extended over a lengthy period of time before they came to a close.
My parent’s divorce wasn’t quick, my grandmothers’ passing’s were neither unexpected nor hasty, and my career took time to come to a finale. These chapters were painful, but I was given time to process them before they actually occurred.
Dealing With Loss
With Mindy’s swift passing, I feel as if it was one of those days where it’s almost 100 degrees out and then a blizzard rolls in. In no way was I ready to hear the crying of my mother-in-law the morning after; it reluctantly transported me back to when I worked on the maternity floor of a hospital and heard the disturbing wails of a mother that gave birth to a stillborn child.
I’ll never forget how another nurse assistant and I were responsible for preparing the child for burial. We took handprints and footprints, and bathed and clothed the infant as if it were one thriving in the nursery.
I remember the silence and tears shed throughout the maternity floor all through the night. The event was a turning point in my life, as was Mindy’s death.
I wasn’t prepared to hear that sobbing ever again. Neither was I ready to plan out what I was going to say at Mindy’s funeral, or answer the Coroner’s questions of her personal life.
I didn’t expect to tell her best friend that she was no longer with us. Completely unprepared, I went through her house to clean it and disseminate belongings as if helping her move.
Grieving With God
I wasn’t ready for her to go away. I could go on and on about all the great things she was and how I will forever miss her in my life and in all the lives of the people that matter to me, but there are never enough words during the loss of a loved one.
So rather, I will share with you how God has taught me to survive the darkness of this season. Quite simply, how to have peace even when grief is so overwhelming.
Jesus said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you.” (Jn 14:27)
Like with courage, we have to actively take peace in our lives even if we don’t think we can. Personally, I believe achieving serenity is done through grieving the right way.
Seems callously elementary for there to be a particular manner in which one should mourn. Yet, I truly know in my heart that this one measure can promote incredible healing and comfort throughout a season of sorrow: taking God’s peace.
The five stages of grief don’t necessarily indicate any spiritual component, but is it small-minded of me to suggest that one doesn’t have to experience anger, denial, or bargaining in order to attain restfulness of spirit? Furthermore, would it be considered denial if I experience His peace instead of those well-known precursory steps of grief?
Recalling My Beliefs
Please don’t misunderstand- I want to be angry and deny her death, but why should I when she’s in heaven? By wishing her to come back, I would be doing her a terrible disservice. Maybe that’s why Jesus wept before raising Lazarus from the dead, knowing he would suffer life and death again?
Can you even imagine doing that to a child or a spouse that you may have lost too soon? Even a grandparent or parent you were not ready to say goodbye to? The price we pay as Christians is to be aware of and to choose God’s path of grieving. We should resist fleshly desires that avoid healing and combat self-serving notions that go against our Christian beliefs.
Are we blaming Him or feeling self-pity because it’s unfair or unjust? Or despite our overwhelming despondency, do we trust God and realize our rage is deeply rooted in dejection over the loss of someone dear to us?
It is definitely challenging to take God’s peace, even as my heart could hurt so much and so often. But equanimity means trusting, having faith, and crying through it instead of covering it all up.
I will continue to let the tears fall because I miss Mindy, but I refuse in wishing her back. I refuse trying to understand her sudden absence and how much we are missing by it.
Because God decides when we are in our final curtain call. His perfect plan was already in action before we are born and after we die. And if able, Mindy would probably say to me, “Why are you sad that I made it to heaven first?”
She, in fact, would want us to celebrate her promotion and do well with what she left behind. She would want us to care about one another, laugh and joke as much as possible for her sake, and to enjoy the important things in life.
So rather than construct an emotional barricade built upon the premise of refusal and indignation, I attempt to take what God is offering me because His peace is more healing than any pill or distraction that helps to forget.
Grieving Loss With Hope
His peace is more powerful than any outlet that helps to destroy, and any wrong thought that attempts to discourage. It is available for those that sincerely want it; just pray that He would teach you how to take hold of it.
And though I miss my sister-in-law, I will miss her for the right reasons and live out my life in a way to honor hers. She left us young, but I think she would have wanted it that way- full of spunk and life.
So this season of sorrowfulness will one day pass. Until then, I will be grieving the way God wants me to and not how I’d prefer to.
I may try to deny her loss somedays or feel the desire to get angry during missed moments. However, I will continue to reach out to God every time and ask for help holding onto the peace He graciously gives me in order to miss Mindy the way she would want to be missed.
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Post Question: What is your favorite Bible verse in times of grief?