The Tide of Grief

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Grief is a funny thing. It is like a tide. Sometimes it is low tide and grief barely makes it upon the shores of your life and you go about your routine and daily tasks with barely a thought to the loss in your life. Then, sometimes it is high tide and grief washes ashore so violently you can’t help but to cry and feel the deep hole the loss of a loved one has left. The tricky thing is you never know when high tide will hit. It has been two years today since Mom passed away. I haven’t always been very good about dealing with the grief her loss brings. I have tried to be strong and detached from it and in many ways it has hurt me. I felt like I had to be strong, like I couldn’t show much emotion. Frankly, I didn’t know how to grieve. I am used to being the one comforting families through grief and I never learned to allow myself to grieve. I went right back to preaching and pastoring the next week after her funeral. I didn’t take many Sundays off the next year, just kept right on going. There were times I broke down, especially once little Evahlyn came into the world and Mom wasn’t there to enjoy her. Finally, last Christmas it all finally caught up to me. I came down with a mono like virus that put me out of commission for a month. It laid me out. I ran fever for 4 weeks. I spent two nights in the hospital. I couldn’t get out of bed for 2 weeks. Much of it was induced by stress my doctor told me. It all came about, in my opinion, because I tried to press on, because I would not let myself take the time to grieve, because I thought I had to be strong. The Lord made me slow down. The Lord made me rest. The stress of grief and loss overwhelmed me. I realized grief must be dealt with and time must be taken.

Knowing this truth does not mean I have lived this truth. This week reminds me again of the great loss not having Mom in my life truly is. I still think to myself, “I need to call Mom and tell her about this” multiple times a week. I hug Evahlyn and wish she could know her Grams everyday. I see Mom in the way Evahlyn laughs, the way she folds her hands when she sits, the way she pats on my back to let me know she loves me, and in so many other ways. Grief still rolls in like high tide every few days. Instead of suppressing it I try to accept it, let it wash over me and remember the hope of eternal life Mom is experiencing in this moment. Grief is ok, it is more than ok, it is healthy, it reminds us of the loved ones who meant so much to us, it reminds us of the good times we shared, and it reminds us of the brokenness of this world and the restoration to come in Jesus Christ. I write this to say, grieve. When it washes up on the shore of your heart, let it come. Cry. Take a moment and cry. Admit you struggle. Admit it is hard. Talk about it. I say this mostly to myself this week. I need to grieve. I need to let the high tide this week brings to wash over me. I need to hug Evahlyn even tighter. I need to tell her about her Grams. I need to tell her I love her “a bushel and a peck, and that’s all you can love.”

The Lord is so good. I plan sermons out 6 months to a year in advance. This coming Sunday I preach on hope in the life of the Christian. The Lord knew what I needed this week. We have hope. I carry the hope of eternal life, the hope I will see Mom again, the hope Evahlyn will one day know her Grams. Grief leads me to hope because our hope in Christ is that death leads to life. I am not dealing with an eternal loss. Missing Mom is temporary. It is hard, but it is temporary. So, as the waves of grief crash in on my heart this week I have hope. I have hope in Christ. I have hope that these tides of grief will always be a part of my life on this earth, but they point to an eternity where there is no more grief and no more death. Grief will come whether you want it to or not. It will wash upon the shores of your heart and if you try to be strong and just move past it eventually the waves will bring you down. Let the waves of the tide of grief wash over you, talk through it, pray through it, and know it is normal, it is healthy, and it points us to hope in Christ. Strength is not found in suppressing your grief. True strength is found in grieving. Hope is found in accepting the tides of grief and allowing these tides to point us to our eternal life found in Christ alone. When the tide rolls in let the waves point you to Jesus, to His death that defeated sin and death forever and His resurrection the first fruits of our resurrection and eternal life found in Him. Death will give way to life and grief will give way to joy and reunion. This is our hope when the tide of grief rolls in on our hearts. This is our hope in the midst of feeling personal loss. Our hope is Jesus, always Jesus.

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3 thoughts on “The Tide of Grief

  1. Brenda Nicholson

    Thank you for this post Zach. After the loss if my son Shaun I was overwhelmed with grief and sorrow. God reminded me of his promises to us and that my son was with him. I have experienced those waves many times and learned to use those times to relate to others as I’ve led Grief Share. It has been 12 years since I’ve seen my son, he would have been 36 yesterday. The tide still ebbs and flows and God is in every one of them, I’m sure you know this too. You may not remember me from FBC Pittsburg but I know your mother loved you very much. My prayers are with you.

    Brenda Nicholson

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