The visual was perfect. For each grief experienced, the group leader added another Lego to the crystal bowl.
Griefs piled up as various women listed them: miscarriage, deaths, loss of a dream, divorce, infertility, unemployment, sexual assault, moving, rejection, feeling misunderstood, loneliness, the aging process, a husband’s infidelity, the illness of a child, et cetera.
Finally the mountain of Legos representing grief fell over. A mess on the floor. A mess in life. The perfect representation of what happens when we let griefs pile up.
The group leader explained, “It’s important to recognize each loss and grieve it in a healthy way. Discover what kind of griever you are and work through it. Ask for help. Piles of grief can become dangerous, causing stress and even illness.”
I knew she was right, but at that moment—I did not recognize how deceptive grief could be.
What looked like a mere transition in life had become a loss of identity.
What seemed like ministry had merged into codependency.
What felt like strength—a sucking-it-up method of living, masqueraded as denial and eventual pain.
Joy stolen. Loneliness expanded.
A memory of another saint who pronounced denial on me as I grieved the loss of my first child, “Oh, this is nothing for you,” she said with a beatific smile. “You’re a strong woman with a strong faith. You can deal with this.”
Ministers are not always allowed the opportunity and the vulnerability to grieve. They are supposed to help everyone else. Never ask help for themselves.
When we cannot see the truth in ourselves, it is vital to listen as others come alongside. “Praying for you,” says a friend. “I can tell something is wrong.”
“How can I help?” asks another. So refreshing, this offer of coffee and a friendly hug.
“You need to see a counselor,” says the trusted spiritual director.
Hard truth is still truth.
Hope threads through the losses in search of restoration.
Sometimes we must ask for help from those who see more objectively, those who are trained to find the germ before it grows into a virus.
And sometimes—instead of helping others—we need to take a break and seek help for ourselves.
This writer now seeks help, moves toward a professional who can sort out the hump I am hiding behind—the reason I cannot move past Deb’s death.
Mental trash cans filled with unresolved griefs I was not allowed to share.
My soul already feels some healing although pulling off the Bandaid hurts. I rest in the salve of faith and put my hope in that future day when tears wash away pain instead of adding to it.
Hope requires that I use the resources available to me, keep looking up to the One who grieves with me and remember—he never ever lets me go.
©2018 RJ Thesman – All rights reserved.
When you are grieving and need to look toward hope, check out Hope Shines. Now also available in Large Print.