Joining the Journey of a Grieving Soul

Joining the Journey of a Grieving Soul

“Why, Mama? Why would she do it?” Joy’s demand came as tears welled up in her eyes and slipped down her cheeks.

Marc, who sat nearest to where the girl was standing, held out his arm to her, motioning for her to come close. When she had, he pulled her gently into an embrace.

“Because she’s hurting, Joy, and she’s not sure how to handle it. It’s not a wise decision, but sometimes pain blinds us. Pray for her.” He kissed her temple lightly and held her while she wiped her tears. To his surprise, the redhead wrapped her arms gratefully around his neck and clung to him for a long while.

“I love you,” she whispered at last and then went to the shelves under the loft to find a book.

—Winter’s Prey, Pages 62, 63

 

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Grief is a strange thing. For a time, and in some cases for the rest of our lives, it changes us. Things that once seemed clear now seem veiled behind some strange new reality: One we never could have imagined before. The hole in our hearts seems so large and raw that it is almost unimaginable that ANYTHING could ever fix it. “Time,” they tell us, “time will make it better.” And it does, in some infinitesimal way. But in those early days of grief, when the world is still spinning and nothing makes sense anymore and we no longer know who we are because who we were has been stripped of one of its greatest foundations—in those days grief blinds.

Last week, some friends and I sat across the table from a woman who had lost nearly every material possession in the wake of her husband’s death. She was in a desperate place, but as I listened and watched I saw a desperation that was deeper than what could be seen even in the destitution of her physical situation. It was the desperation of grief. It was the questions that swarm through the mind, “Who am I without him? What will I do? Where will I go? How will I survive?”

The questions are very normal, but to the onlooker, the responses seem so very strange and illogical. As she threw out her proposed solutions to her situation, my stomach twisted itself in knots. Each one seemed like a plan destined to drive her current situation into further destruction.

“Why would she do that? Why would she make such a desperate move?” I caught myself thinking. But in the next moment, I would see the grief in her eyes, and I would remember. I would remember what it was like to have my world ripped out from under my feet and the sudden unexplainable emotion that came with it. I remembered the urgency to find a solution that would keep our heads above water. I remembered the fog that clouded the thought processes and numbed all senses but one—the sense of pain and loss.

The grieving soul can be repulsive to the whole, vibrant, secure soul. Their actions may seem irrational or foolish, when really they are simply grasping for hope, for a means to survive. We do not see that our counsel, though perhaps far better than their own, is frightening to them. They have never walked this road before, never slogged through the mire of emotion that inhibits their every step. We do not see that they need our patience every bit as much as they need our clarity of mind. We easily become frustrated or impatient or hurt by their blundering. We see our discomfort, but cannot truly imagine that theirs is a hundred, thousand times greater.

There was but one thing we could offer that woman that night as we sat at the table. The one thing, which so often held me above the churning waters of grief—Christ. Sure, we could counsel her as to what steps to take next. We could find organizations to help her. But Christ, and Christ alone, could give her the hope, the peace, for which she was searching.

The fog of her grief made it very hard from our point of view to see whether she had truly reached out and taken hold of that Hope. Only God knows the answer to that question. Our job was simply to tell her of that Hope and to love her, comfort her, and to meet the needs we could meet.

As the story in Winter’s Prey moves along the Bennetts find that grief is not a problem to be solved but rather a journey to be taken. At times it is a long, slow, arduous journey. Perhaps that is why God had to command us to weep with those who weep. It isn’t something that comes naturally. The whole soul cries only for a moment, while the grieving soul weeps for a night that seems eternal. Attending a funeral is one thing, slogging through the trench of transition with the mourning is another. It is a journey laden with care and burdens and worry, all of which must be taken to the Lord. And that is where Marc’s solution comes into the picture: Pray.

Are there grieving souls in your life?

Pray for them.

Do you see them making decisions that you don’t understand?

Pray for them.

Do you see them acting in ways they’ve never acted before?

Pray for them.

Do you see them hurting those they love the most?

Pray for them.

And then do something more:

Love them.

God did not give us the fruits of the Spirit to waste on ourselves. He gave them to be shared with those around us. Let Him pour out His love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance through you and into their lives. Study out what it means to truly love, to extend charity, and then live it toward the hurting around you. They may not receive it the way you want them to or even would expect them to, but that is not up to you. Your part is simply to love them as God loves you. We don’t always return His love either, but He loves us still.

God makes an amazing promise to the grieving soul. He says, “Blessed are they that mourn for they shall be comforted.” The Greek word translated “mourn” means “to wail”. This person isn’t just a little bit sorrowful! No, this person feels as though their heart has been ripped from their chest. And yet God says they are happy—because they will be comforted. The Holy Spirit is the great Comforter. But God has also made it clear that He “comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves have been comforted of God.”

Are you a grieving soul? Let the hope of Christ be your strength. Let the Holy Spirit come alongside to strengthen, encourage, and guide you. Are you struggling to know how to respond to a grieving soul? Pray for them. Love them. Walk along side of them and let the Lord comfort them through you, however long it takes. Grow together not apart. The path might not be easy for either of you, but in the end you will find that God’s promise is true—you will find the happiness of His blessing and comfort.


SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAAbout Rachel Miller

I am the author of four books, including my newest release, Winter’s Prey. I am also the Executive Director of Forbid Them Not Ministries, the happy aunt of ten nieces and nephews, and slightly addicted to life in Montana.

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Looking For Stories

I am (very slowly) working on an outline for a follow-up book to the King’s Daughter. It isn’t the one I originally planned as a follow-up, but I believe it will touch on some very important needs and difficulties, which all of us face. As part of my research (and maybe even part of the book), I am looking for stories that show how God taught specific lessons in an individual’s life. Below is a list of the topics. I am also looking for stories for another project dealing with chivalry, courage, and the relevant life. If God has taught you lessons in any of these areas, I would love to hear your story. Please, type it up (doesn’t have to be long, detailed, or perfect) and send it to “rmiller  at gracewritingservice dot com” I’m looking forward to reading about what God has done in your life!
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King’s Daughter Topics:
Value vs. Worthlessness
Acceptance vs. Rejection
Carried vs. Forsaken
Joy vs. Emptiness
Peace, Restoration, and Gratitude vs. Anger, Resentment, and Frustration
Hope vs. Hopelessness
Purpose vs. Pointless Living
Companionship (with God) vs. Loneliness
Comfort/Healing vs. Pain
Security, Patience, Peace, vs. Insecurity
Confidence in God vs. Self-doubt
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Project 2:
1. Stories of how someone behaved courageously or chivalrously on behalf of someone else.
2. Stories of how someone benefited from the courageous or chivalrous actions of another.
Looking forward to hearing from you! (rmiller at gracewritingservice dot com)
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King's Daughter: A Story of Redemption

King’s Daughter: A Story of Redemption

ABOUT RACHEL MILLER

I am the author of three books, including The King’s Daughter: A Story of Redemption. You can check them all out here. I also run a Christian editing and writing service. Check it out and let me know how I can help you.

Birds At The Brook

For the first time in two weeks the house is quiet. The phone has been mostly silent. Mom is resting. I hear the ceiling fan rock from time to time. The wall clock ticks faithfully, and a lovely, unusual-for-Montana rain falls softly against the roof and windows. It’s the kind of day that makes you want to curl up and sleep. It makes you want to settle in with a good book or movie and something hot to drink. It’s the kind of rainy, spring day that makes you think.

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I have taken the tasks I set out to complete this morning as far as I can take them for today. I should feel relieved, but as I sit down at the table I find myself confused. I don’t know what’s next. I’m not sure how to balance everything that is now on my plate with everything that was on it before…Before the world turned upside down.

The load doesn’t seem heavy; Christ is carrying it. Of that, I am very aware. But I’m not sure which task to pick up first, which I’m going to need to put off for a while, which I need to pursue because it is most important to this new chapter of my life…the chapter without my Dad.

For five years, since I moved back to Billings and began headquartering my work and ministry from my parent’s home, my dad has been the first person I’ve seen nearly every morning. As I stumbled blindly from my room to the kitchen to make my tea each morning, he was always on the couch, coffee nearby, breathe right strip still clinging to his nose; computer, book or Bible open in his lap. He was very often the last person I saw at night. We always seemed to be shutting the lights out at the same (usually very late) hour.

It’s Tuesday. He should be in the living room printing the materials for a meeting for which he’ll most likely have to rush out the door as soon as supper is over—But the living room is silent.

He should be preparing for tomorrow night’s Bible study—But he won’t be there.

One week before Dad went to Heaven I posted a two-part blog series called Out of Sight: Lessons from a Storm. I had been struggling with seeing where the path was leading, and committed even as I wrote to stop and spend extra time with the Lord. That time came Easter Sunday. After celebrating the resurrection at church that morning, we came home and had a delicious Russian meal. Then I went to a favorite spot along the river and sat down with God.

I hadn’t been there long when the Lord brought Psalm 91:1 to my heart. I turned there and began to read. The entire psalm grabbed my attention. Like applying aloe to a sunburn, it soothed the frayed, frightened places of my heart.

I didn’t know how much I was about to need it.

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Tuesday morning, my Dad somewhat casually told my mom he thought he needed to find a doctor for the symptoms he’d been self-treating for quite some time. (None of the rest us realized how serious those symptoms had been.) My parents had their Bible reading and prayer time together. They ate breakfast together. They headed for the ER but not before stopping to get gas. No one realized, not even Dad, how serious the situation was. Within just a couple of hours he had been whisked into emergency surgery for a six-way bypass. SIX bypasses. How had he even been functioning! The surgery went well. The hospital staff sent us home, and told us Dad would need us more in the morning than he would during the night.

As I woke up the next morning, I turned on a recording of Scripture that I have been working my way through. That morning’s reading was I Kings 17. I hadn’t even gotten past the first three verses when I realized what story I was about to hear. Elijah was about to tell Ahab there would be no rain for three and a half years. Elijah would have to flee from the king and live in exile—But God had things prepared for his servant. He already had a place of safety set aside and had commanded the birds to feed him by the brook. He had already prepared a widow to take care of him when the brook dried up.

As I listened, an overwhelming peace came over me. Yes, Dad’s recovery would be long and hard, but God had everything in control—the birds were already at the brook.

Wednesday was a hard day. Dad was in pain. Breathing was almost impossible; no matter what they tried he couldn’t seem to get enough oxygen. That day I lived moments, which I will never forget: Moments that for now are to be pondered in my heart alone.

As we left the hospital that night, I said, “Good night, Dad. I love you. See you in the morning.”

Which just goes to show how little we know.

I might have made it to the hospital in time the next morning if I had seen the voicemail a few minutes sooner. I drove for all I was worth, possibly breaking more laws in those ten miles than I have broken in my entire life. But I was too late. We were all too late. Dad had already gone Home.

He was ready to go, but we were not ready to say goodbye.

 

I began working with orphans and fatherless children when I was 18. On April 24th, I became one.

The tears I have wiped away in the past became my own. Their hurts became acutely familiar to my own heart. Their questions became my questions: How did this happen? Is he really gone? What will happen to me? What will happen to my mom? Will my sisters be okay? What will we do without him?

Even the affliction, which God so strongly warns His people against throughout the Scriptures, found its way into our lives…but so did Christ. The God of all Comforts has proven himself to be just that. Just as I have pointed the children to God as the Father of the fatherless, I have found Him to be faithful to us.

As I consider that heap of tasks and responsibilities in my Savior’s hands, I am content to leave them there, and to ask Him one step at a time which one I am to take from the pile next. I cannot carry the burden, but He can. I cannot sort through the mess of both new and old responsibilities tangled up like a bunch of Christmas lights in the emotion the last two weeks have brought—but God can.

He has been faithful already. He has sent loving friends to comfort and care for us. He has sent notes and phone calls and hugs, wonderful hugs, to soothe the pain. He has fixed problems before we even had a chance to take action. He has wrapped His arms around us through His Word and wiped away the tears in the night with His peace.

He has been to us the birds at the brook.

 

My story is mine, but it is not entirely unique. How has God comforted you in times of sorrow?

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King's Daughter: A Story of Redemption

King’s Daughter: A Story of Redemption

 

ABOUT RACHEL MILLER

I am the author of three books, including The King’s Daughter: A Story of Redemption. You can check them all out here. I also run a Christian editing and writing service. Check it out and let me know how I can help you.