When Your Grief is for Someone Still Living {Rays in the Storm Series}

rays in the storm series

Hey friends. Today we conclude our Rays in the Storm series and I want to offer a heartfelt thanks to everyone who has contributed, commented, read, shared and truly made this a series a blessing. We couldn’t have done this without you! I spent a lot of time thinking about what I wanted to write for this final post. We’ve talked about many different types of loss, but there’s one we haven’t touched on. So today, it’s my prayer that I address a delicate but very real topic in a sincere, sensitive way.

When Your Grief is for Someone Still Living

My friend’s words left me nearly speechless. I’d never been able to articulate exactly how I felt, but she just had.

“It’s like you’re mourning a person who’s still alive,” she said, lying on the bed with her face propped up against her hand.

Yes, that’s exactly what it was. What it still is.

Even after I left the weekend conference we were attending and came home, I continued to ponder her words. Those words that described a relationship with a loved one who battles addiction. An addiction that consumes their life. An addiction which consumes their soul.

When you love a lost soul you grieve for the life they could have had, for relationships severed in a way you’re not sure will ever be repaired. Only the person is still living.

And the grief is perpetual. There is no closure, no final conversation. But sometimes the fear creeps in and you wonder. You wonder if the brief exchange you have via text will be the last. You wonder if what they said was true, or a cover up for something they thought best to hide.

grief for the living

They’re living in a way which eventually leads to death, whether physical or spiritual.

When we grieve the Spirit, there’s always a slow death taking place, whether we realize it or not. We separate ourselves from the living God who loves us and desires an intimate relationship with us. But can the Spirit have a close relationship with someone who knowingly causes him pain?

As I sat on my sofa mulling over these things on an afternoon in late October, I realized how loss affects us all in different ways. But in one shape or form, we all experience it.

The question is how will it shape us? Will it embitter us and distance us from God or will it fuel our passion for him and make us love him more? Will it add depth and color to our story or extinguish it completely?

For much of my life, I did the former and was bitter. I used circumstances in my life as an excuse to run from God and proclaimed everyone in the church was a hypocrite.

But you know what? The person who throws this label around is often the biggest hypocrite of all.

We’re hypocrites because we think we’re better. We think we’ve got our stuff together, but the truth of the matter is we’re all beggars.

We’re all beggars in need of God’s grace and mercy, and it’s only by his divine love that our lives are made significant.

Is there someone in your life who’s hurt you? Is the loss and the pain so deep you can barely articulate it? I get it. I’ve been there, and I still walk through it. I won’t make excuses for that person or say they deserve anything from you.

You have permission to create healthy boundaries. You have permission to grieve for the relationship you could have had.

But can I tell you something else? You can’t fix it. And I think this is the part that often causes us the most grief because we want to so badly, but we can’t.

We have to let it go.

When we grieve for the living, our greatest hope comes in surrendering them to the Father.

There’s only one person who can fix a broken soul, and he’s not of this world. But we have to allow him to do it. And the person who’s broken has to make that choice.

Tomorrow, when the temptation comes to pick the burden back up, we will have to release it again. Every day, for as long as we live.

Will it be easy? No. But there are burdens in this life we were never made to carry. Let’s give them to the Father can handle the weight.

Let’s give them to the One who bore the weight already.

How God Uses Our Story {Rays in the Storm Series}

rays in the storm series

As we close week two of our Rays in the Storm series, I am honored to introduce you to a dear friend, Lisa Appelo. I was introduced to Lisa through mutual blogging friends, and am always encouraged by her message of hope in a God who is unchanging. If there’s anything I’ve learned from Lisa’s words, it’s that God is always faithful, even in the midst of tragedy. I hope you’ll give her a warm welcome as she shares her thoughts on how loss can bring us together.

When Loss Creates a Kindred Connection

I didn’t know her but I could not forget her story. We had several mutual friends in our not-so-big town and her story spread quickly in conversations, prayer chains and between moms at play group.

Friends said her family had been especially close-knit and I knew they were active in their church and the community. But over the holiday weekend there had been a terrible car accident, and her husband and two of her four children had been killed.

As her story replayed in my thoughts over the next few months, I prayed for her and her two remaining children. I could not fathom the pain, the layers of grief, the sheer weight of her loss.

How does someone recover from such a loss, I wondered? I could only wonder — that kind of pain was completely foreign to me.

Two years passed and our family moved away to another town when my husband was offered his dream job. And as happens with these kinds of things and the passage of time, her story became a tender memory.

Until our paths crossed in the wake of my own unexpected loss.

My husband, the man who’d been my first and only date and my high school sweetheart, had died in his sleep. We had been a close-knit family, active in our church and in our community. He had been an incredible father.

Overnight, I was suddenly a widow and single mom to seven kids. I was neck deep in pain and paperwork and the perplexity of helping my children navigate this tragedy.

I had a hundred worries in those first weeks. Would we be okay? How would my kids handle this? How was I going to single parent my boys just coming of age or help my teenage daughter through the loss of her dad? What about my 4- and 6-year-olds? What did my future hold?

Her bereavement card was one of the first I received. She had handwritten a short note and included a Publix gift card.

My story had spread quickly in conversations, prayer chains and between mutual friends and out of the enormity of her grief, she had reached out to me.

Her simple kindness met my questions in ways that other cards and hugs could not. It was a small gesture that offered me huge hope.

When Loss Creates Kindred Connection

She got it. She was a young widow. She had suffered unexpected loss and she was navigating children through tragedy and grief. Though her story was different than mine – in many ways harder and more complex — our losses created a kindred connection.

Her card and gift were a welcome gift. Welcome to the club of those who have suffered loss and are still breathing.

Her card and gift whispered that there was hope and there would be life again.

Her card and gift offered the encouragement and answers to my hundred questions that few others could.

God can use our story to strengthen another in her story. If she out of the unfathomable loss of her story could extend comfort to me in ours, we would be okay.

“God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.” (2 Corinthians 1:3b-4)


Lisa Appelo closeup

 

Lisa Appelo is a single mom to 7 and unexpected widow, crazy in love with Christ. She writes about God’s faithfulness and gives hope and encouragement for the hard, the good and the places in between. She’s written 100 Days with Christ and you can get your free copy at www.TrueandFaithful.net. You can also find her on Facebook and Instagram.

 

Where Do We Find Hope When Darkness Overwhelms?

where do we find hope

I’ve never witnessed someone cross through the thin veil which separates this life from the next. When I listen to others describe it, I’m always filled with awe.

What was it like? Did angels lead the way into the Light which never fades? Was there hesitation or was it impossible to resist the pull of a place with no tears, shame or regret?

When tragedy hits, the questions abound. And there is an ache for a world where suffering and evil don’t knock us off our feet. A longing for a place we can’t see yet, but fills us with a hope that carries us when the load crushes.

This week, our community suffered a great loss. A family is grieving for little girl whose life on this earth was too short.

And as the questions play on repeat, I’m reminded how little I know.

I don’t know why some prayers for healing are answered and some aren’t.

I don’t know why one child suffers and another is saved by medicine or the supernatural.

I don’t know why girls are left motherless at an age when a mother’s touch is like air in the lungs.

I know little, and although I’m being transformed, perhaps that’s the way it’s supposed to be. Perhaps in some ways, knowledge does not equate with power.

We live in a world fallen far from the Eden where we once enjoyed complete, unblemished communion with God. And we have knowledge of more than God ever intended.

We know good from evil. And to be honest, sometimes that knowledge levels us, doesn’t it? Our heightened awareness of the darkness around us leaves us searching for something sure, unwavering and true.

clouds and trees

When trouble and hardship come, we often forget where our anchor lies. I know I do. And the other day, as I sat swaying and flipping through my Bible, my eyes landed on 1 Peter.

Peter is writing to a church who is discouraged. They are being persecuted and ridiculed for their faith, and they need encouragement.

As I read through the first chapter, one word jumped off the page: living.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you…

 1 Peter 1:3-4 NIV (emphasis mine)

It was a single word I’d passed over time and time again, but it struck me in a way that left my eyes wet and my hands trembling as I ran my finger over the black and white.

We hope because Jesus is more than black and white in a book. The blood that courses through our veins filled his.

We hope because he left his place in heaven and chose to become dusty and dirty with us, walking with the afflicted and the poor. And then he took the darkness which threatens to consume us on himself.

All of it.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

 Matthew 27:26 NIV

We don’t ever have to ask the haunting question Jesus screamed on the cross. When we rail against the hurt and the unknown, we can rest assured that he when he said, “It is finished,” he meant it.

This hope is living because he is living. Living to intercede. Living to comfort in the moments when life overwhelms.

He breathes life in the gap between this life and the next. He breathes life in the unknown. He is there.

And when the questions don’t stop or the answers don’t come, his grace still fills the empty spaces.

 

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