Someone jostled the white pitcher of dried hydrangeas on the mantle.
Rustic-browned hydrangea leaves scattered on the floor.
Sometimes I am as fragile as the rustic-browned dried hydrangea.
Sometimes the slightest touch can shatter.
I always wanted to be stronger than that, even in my wildest grief. I wanted to have it all together.
Because who wants to fall all apart? Because who wants to be needy? Because who isn’t afraid of being labeled as “needy”? Because who hasn’t talked about someone and called them a “ministry”, like people are projects and we’re the so-not-needy heroines?
Stories of grief and heartache and ugly poured into my inbox this last year; stories unexpectedly weaving into mine.
Beautiful friendships can form in the worst storms.
And sometimes watching this, feeling this, seeing the unexpected form and unfold, and partaking of it, is your only tangible grasp on hope.
Dandelion dust can scatter like rustic browned hydrangea leaves and tender hearts beating grief can shatter.
And not one living person doesn’t grieve something and –
grief can paralyze or propel.
Grief can stop you from living and reduce you to surviving, and sometimes the strongest intentions to stare down hopelessness? They can falter and get lost in a whirl of torrid sorrow.
Sometimes you lose your way and forget your identity and the wounds you wear start wearing you.
This was me.
And then came the shame.
Shame that I lost myself in pain and let the grief swallow me. Shame because people who foster and love babies they didn’t give birth to are supposed to be stronger than that. Shame because I shared my grief too openly. Shame because I didn’t share enough. Shame because I didn’t have energy to pursue relationships. Shame because I saw the ugliness of my circumstances more than the goodness in my life. Shame because of the dark thoughts and depression that plagued me. Shame because I was needy and too much.
The day I shut our navy blue front door behind me on a humid May morning and crumpled into a ball of tears, became a threshold in my life. I can see it now, as the tiny blue flowers pop open on a warm spring morning in late April whispering “forget-me-not”.
How the grief I broke under has made me more whole.
This is my story.
“I didn’t know if you would ever come back,” my quiet man spoke into the dark, one night, where we lay talking.
And the truth of the matter, when your heart shatters under a wild grief? It’s a mercy you cannot go back and all grace that you can move forward.
And maybe the most important thing to get in it all?
That there is no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus.
Take a deep breath, friend.
You are redeemed and released from all shame, because Christ is ALIVE.
You can show your scars and let your scars tell their story, and this is not hopelessness but hope-FULL – ness.
Because if you have grieved in your lifetime, you know –
that sometimes the slightest touch can shatter life, but the brave endeavor might share life.
Sing your story and let your story be your song and some people will never understand and every person will think what they will and let none of it ever stop you from being true to the unfolding work of the resurrected Lamb – at work in you.
And this is how you will overcome – by the word of your testimony.
Five Tips for a Grieving Heart
- Give yourself space to be. Healing takes time. Deep grief demands extra rest. Allow yourself more time for sleep. (Ideas: go to bed an hour earlier, set the alarm clock an hour later, take a mid-day nap)
- Find a healthy way to express yourself unfiltered. (Ideas: journaling, drawing/painting, etc.)
- Have at least one person, outside of your family/household, you can count on to walk with you. This should be someone you are comfortable with venting to and someone who will not feel the need to provide you with answers.
- Set some motivational goals. You choose what these should be, based on your lifestyle, life situation and life circumstances, but make sure they are goals that will motivate you to get out of bed in the morning and give you a sense of purpose.
- Set firm boundaries. Do NOT commit to many “extra” things outside of the goals you set. Say no to anything that will add anxiety or stress to your life, as much as possible.
Five Tips for the Friend of a Grieving Heart
- Listen more than you ever have before. Don’t be an instruction manual, be a co-laborer.
- Don’t ask, just do. Asking questions like “what can I do?” ends up just being awkward. Think of something to do and do it. (Ideas: bring a meal, have flowers delivered, use your Amazon account and have something delivered anonymously to their doorstep, etc.)
- There are no right words to speak in a time of grief, so don’t try. Saying that you are praying or that you care is enough.
- Don’t stop relating in normal ways. Exercise discernment, but you asking them for help or advice might be more therapeutic and healing than you might realize.
- Be available. Grieving is dark but grieving alone is darker.