I have been through many seasons of grief. I’ve grieved over the death of loved ones, over the end of relationships, and over the end to a way of life. Grief happens whenever we lose something that is dear to us. The degree to which I suffer varies, but it is never a pleasant experience, and, well, grief is grief. Like the tide, we cannot control grief… it ebbs and flows of it’s own accord.
I lived in France for many years, and there, the tide is called La marée … we spent our summers at a house in Le Moulleau, near Arcachon. I remember that the tide would be greater or smaller depending on the moon. When the moon was full, especially at the spring and autumn equinox, they called it La grande marée … this is the time when the tide was said to rise as fast as a galloping horse at Mt. St. Michel. Where we stayed further south, the tide would be so great that the entire beach would be engulfed with water at high tide.
I find that my grief is like the tide … sometimes it’s like la grande marée and my whole soul seems to be consumed by my grief. There are days that ebb, when I feel like my old self, full of confidence and hope; then there are days that flow, when I have difficulty even breathing. I even find that sometimes I’m caught in a riptide, unable to find my way back to shore.
I’m in a season of grief now and it has been a true grande marée. But, it has taught me much. I find that I don’t always handle grief well. I tend to try to control my grief by doing things …
… going for a run
… taking a drive
… watching endless amounts of television
… eating ridiculous amounts of junk food
… lashing out at those around me
Rather than allow the sorrow to come…. I’ll do whatever to forget about the pain for a bit.
What God has been teaching me through this particular season of grief is that if I try to control my grief, I only make things worse. Instead of handing over my grief to God and allowing myself to grieve in his care, I tend to react poorly, trying to control my circumstances. I so want to be that happy, everything-is-fine person that I stuff it down, deep down, until the moment it erupts. And these past few weeks, I fell into the same old patterns and the truly ugly in me emerged. I’ve hated myself for the way I’ve reacted and it hurts even more to realize that I’m capable of being the person I really just don’t want to be.
God has been whispering to me that the only way to heal is to offer forgiveness, to others and to myself, and to make amends when I react poorly. By reacting in anger, hurt and bitterness, I’m only prolonging the pain. God is asking me to allow him to control my grief, to fall into his arms, and to accept grief for what it is … a time to mourn what is lost, to seek his face, to be changed by what is revealed in me, and to heal.
I don’t like the pain and other negative emotions that have rippled through my days of late, but I am full of gratitude, as well. God has been revealing things in me that need to change; things that I can offer up to him for his refinement. I’m grateful because I do want to change, to be more ‘Christ-like’ in my relationships… with Jesus, with the people God has placed in my life, and with myself.
In grief-tide, it seems that the best thing to do is relax, surrender to the ebb and flow, and trust in the healing waters of Jesus’ love, comfort and forgiveness.