Grieving is such a personal thing - even when engaging in this process with other friends and family around there is still so much that is tackled independently. This work is a heart issue and a head issue. It takes physical strength and time — so much time, and it can easily become “all about me.”
On a recent trip down memory lane when visiting familiar sites in Arkansas, I found myself really wrestling with all the thoughts. Here are a few questions that filtered through my mind …
“Will I ever get over this”
“Can I move forward?”
“Will I never stop missing you?”
“Why can’t I get this grief door to close a little more?”
“Am I making progress?”
“Am I actually helping anyone else with my experience?”
As you can see there is one recurring item in each question -- I.
With this realization, I started to wonder if at times I am too self-absorbed within my own narrative. How can I turn this around and use my story to encourage someone else. How do I encourage a new widow whose spouse passed away this week, or maybe even today? After a day of moping a bit and trying to figure out what’s happening, a new thought hit me this morning.
I can chose to let my grief define me or refine me.
Looking at the big story of God, I know that He is always trying to work through me to refine me (and us). This process means looking more like Christ than ourselves and it means caring more about other people than ourselves - not always easy!
Don’t get me wrong, self care and honest introspection is important, but while we work on our hearts and minds, there is room and opportunity to see other people and care for them also. This isn’t easy because our own grief really takes a toll and can take over. We can also try to counterbalance too much where we focus on others so much that we fail to do our own grief work - also not good.
Here I am somewhere in the middle, realizing a need to have a little more of a grief strategy - if there is such a thing. Here are a couple things I am going to try to shift the focus in a different way. This means doing two things for others and one for myself (with hopes of it going beyond this week).
This week specifically, I am going to do a random act of kindness for someone whose spouse is in the hospital and send a card (or two) to a fellow widow. For myself, I’m going to focus on truth from God's word that is both a reminder that God has seen the good and hard parts of life and still is with me (us) going forward.
Psalm 42:8 (The Message)
When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know of you, From Jordan depths to Hermon heights, including Mount Mizar. Chaos calls to chaos, to the tune of whitewater rapids. Your breaking surf, your thundering breakers crash and crush me.
Then God promises to love me all day, sing songs all through the night!
My life is God’s prayer.
(Sidebar: Interestingly this was the verse of the day when I sat down to write this! I was going to use another one but this seem 100% perfect! This whole chapter wrestles with doubt and hope.)
Hi! It's Jenn Brown, writing my story that is now slightly different as we enter a season of new grief. On September 30, 2019, my dear husband Josh passed away after battling brain cancer.