I used to think grieving was only for when a loved one has died. passed on. left to be with Jesus.
But oh how much more all encompassing death really is.
I am learning that although grief may primarily be for deaths, death is much more broad than merely being attributed to one who has taken their last breath here on earth. And while facing these deaths is incredibly painful and confusing and likely one of the most heart-wrenching things we will endure in this lifetime, I ask that you take a moment to consider other forms death may take as well.
Death can look like the death of a friendship, the death of a career, the death of a life once lived or known, the death of a romantic relationship or marriage, the death of an old you.
The death of a season, the death of a life dream, the death of a motivation that once upon a time kept you going.
Each of these deaths is painful. Whether or not you have turned your attention to the holes and aches they have left deep within your being, these holes and aches exist and, in one way or another, they beg for your attention. As much as we may tell ourselves or want to believe that they don't have a significant impact on us, the reality is that they do. In some way, shape, or form, each of these deaths takes a piece of you with them.
And each death deserves to be acknowledged. To be grieved. To take up space within you.
Because this is the only way healing can take place. By naming them and remaining curious about what they are trying to tell you, you are able to learn and to grow. It isn't enough but also it isn't healthy to simply "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" and trudge onward as if nothing has happened, meanwhile adding weight upon weight to the heaviness that lies deep within, increasing your inner numbness and paralysis to a life lived abundantly.
We can also grieve a life that never was. A family that may have been longed for but never had– whether it's your family of origin or a family of your own. A relationship that lived on only in your deepest desires and yearnings.
These, too, along with so many other examples not included in this post, must be given space and time to be grieved.
And grieving differs from death to death, person to person, grievance to grievance. Furthermore, it isn't linear. Grieving the death of a friendship may take much more time than grieving the death of a career, or vice versa. And on one day, we may remark, "At last, I have overcome my grief!" only to be followed by another bout of deep sadness or anger or whatever it may be.
This is simply the nature of grief. Be patient with the process and kind with yourself.
And following not all but some, or maybe even most, deaths, we can prepare for the New.
A new friendship, new calling, new sense of purpose.
A new season, a new dream, a new life.
Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 goes like this:
"There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace."
As you do the brave work of exploring anywhere within your own life that may need to be grieved, or even if you don't, my prayer is that you may have the strength and endurance to do the arduous work of healing and letting yourself feel and acknowledge the difficult parts of your story and of your hurts.
And remember, there is a time for everything and with each death, a new is born.
May you always hold onto hope, in the moments of new life but especially as you grieve moments of death.