Saturday, January 28, 2012

A Conversation About Grieving

Today I visited with my 6 yr. old friend MaKayla. She said she's started meeting "with a lady who asks her questions." It took me a few minutes to realize that God has given her a special friend just like He has given me. I told her I also meet with a lady who asks me questions and helps me talk about things I'm feeling. 

Last week when I was meeting with my "lady", I started crying about something. Now I've been crying about this something for about nine years now, and I've been comforted by a lot of different people. But this lady explained a few things in words that I've never quite heard before. It was like she turned a light on in my heart to help me see and understand what I was experiencing. I want to share some of our conversation because it was such a great comfort for me, and I know I'm not the only one grieving right now. 

H: I can't explain how I feel. The memory is a happy one but it also makes me so sad, even to remember his face. The only way I can think to describe it is by comparing it to the way someone might feel when visiting an elderly person who was recently widowed...you feel happy in their presence because they're so sweet, but also sad because of the loneliness they're facing.

C: So, it's bittersweet. 

H: Yea..that's a good word to describe it. 

C: That is one of the most honest feelings we can have this side of Restoration, Hannah. Your memories are bittersweet because in them you taste the sweetness of Heaven- the love and friendship you shared, but also the bitterness of Hell- the very real loss of that love and friendship. The reality is that we live in a world right now that is made for good, but broken by sin- and we are awaiting the restoration of all things. The good you remember is real, and the pain of loss is real. The goal of grieving isn't necessarily forgetting or losing those painful feelings, but letting your heart be enlarged in order to contain them; both the bitter and the sweet.

H: That is like balm on a wound, knowing I don't have to try and bury the memories that make me sad, but rather learn how to grow up with them and let them enlarge my heart. But is it strange that I'm still this sad about the things that happened? Will it become less intense as time goes on?

C: It will both lessen and grow in intensity as time goes on. It will grow in intensity as you get a greater perspective on the ways God was working through that season and as you see more broadly the beauty of His redemptive work in your story. That's why you're crying fresh tears now. But it will also lessen in intensity as your heart makes room for new relationships and new memories. The old ones won't go away, they'll just have more company. 

I hope this encourages and comforts you if you're currently experiencing the pain of an enlarging heart.