I have written before about how our subconscious self keeps track of things that end up popping into our conscious life as grief. For example, my birthday (April 9) will exactly mark the 6 month point of Jettie's departure, and I know that my subconscious self is already anticipating that. But I don't think that's what triggered things this time! I have also discovered that the tragedies of others, like the horrible tsunami in Japan and the battles many of those I love are facing, also open us up to fresh doses of grieving personal loss. I think that's a good thing for many reasons. First, my new awareness of deep loss now tenderizes me towards others who have experienced great loss. I grieve with those who grieve in a much deeper way now, and I trust that this means that my feeble longings I call prayer are deeper too. Second, the opening up of my emotions that allows fresh grief to surface is part of God's ongoing healing process of my grief. Better to experience and express my sense of loss in Father's presence than to ignore it only to have it pop up later as depression or something else. So even if I don't like the feelings that my compassionate heart experiences at the loss of others, I know I need to lean into them and allow Father to use them to bring healing not only to me but to others as well. That's a good thing, I think.
I am learning some others things about grief, too, that I will just throw out to the five of you who read my blog. :-) First, although at first grief is almost completely unmanageable (at least it was for me), as time progresses you do become able to "manage" grief to some extent. For example, now when something triggers sorrow, I am able to choose whether or not to lean into that sorrow or deal with it later (if that's what I sense God wanting to do). In other words, I am now at least to some extent able to choose when, how much and how, I am to mourn. That's more important than we may think since postponing mourning to a more appropriate time enables us to grieve more effectively and more deeply when the time is right. Choosing at God's leading to postpone mourning to a more effective time (and setting) may be part of a healthy grieving process. At least that's what I am discovering.
I am also learning how beautifully God showers us with His grace when the ambushes of sorrow come. I may, as I did this morning, weep and weep in His presence, but I am deeply aware that I am weeping within His embrace, and I am able to sense His leading as to where I should go with the sorrow. Furthermore, His fresh grace brings with it the ability for me to respond in two very important ways to that grace: gratitude for much and generosity to many. I have known for quite some time that the appropriate responses to grace are gratitude and generosity, but it's remarkable to be experiencing these two things in the context of anguished sorrow and see how they contribute not only to my healing but to the healing of others--amazing grace indeed! And I am also seeing how important gratitude and generosity are in preventing my grieving from degenerating into self-focus and self-pity. One cannot be grateful and generous and remain self-absorbed (and focus on self never, never leads to wholeness, in my opinion).
So that's my experience and my thoughts right now. In my grief--opened up this time by my sorrow for others--I again am experiencing God's grace, and His great grace is working itself out in my life as fresh gratitude and a renewed commitment to generosity.
Tom, one of Abba's little boys