Grief is Hard
It’s that time of year for high school seniors. All the high school “lasts”…last prom, last ball games, last awards ceremonies, and finally, graduation. It’s truly a time to celebrate. But, for someone who should have a child experiencing these things, but doesn’t, it’s really hard. It’s another stark reminder that my child is not here. Grief is hard.
I lost my seventeen-year-old daughter, Kennedy, unexpectedly January 1, 2017. She had lots of smiles and hugs to give and loved doing things with her friends. Being the youngest of three girls, she loved when the spotlight was on her. She would have loved being a senior in high school and all the pomp and circumstance that brings! As we say around here, “Kennedy would have rocked being a senior!” Grief is hard.
I am part of a group for bereaved parents, and I recall recently a post one of the mothers made that struck me so deeply. She started out by saying, “Today was a hard one.” I get it. We have lots of those. She went on to share with us about going through her daughter’s personal items as tears were falling and she was struggling to catch her breath. She described lifting the clothes to her face to try to catch a scent of her daughter. None of this really surprised me; I’ve done all that too. But, I was struck by one of her closing sentences, “How great is a love that still brings you to tears and your knees after 30 years.” THIRTY YEARS. I sat there stunned and thought, “Oh, Lord, am I STILL going to be in this much pain in THIRTY YEARS?” I begin to ask myself, “Why is grief so hard?” I believe with all my heart that Kennedy, who loved the Lord and committed herself to follow Him, is living her best life in Heaven right now. She’s not sick. She’s not sad. She’s not scared. She’s in the presence of Jesus. She’s actually in the place we are all trying to get to anyway. But even though I know all that, it’s still SO hard. Why is grief so hard? The answer is separation. She’s not with me. We can’t walk together and talk together. We no longer experience life together. THAT is what I grieve. That’s why grief is hard.
Shortly after this, I was reading my Bible and came across a passage that I have read and heard preached many, many times. In Luke 15 Jesus is addressing the religious folks because they were basically asking Him, “If you’re so religious, why do you hang out with sinners?” To answer their question, He tells three stories and the third one is known as the Parable of the Prodigal Son. I’ve come to realize this parable is really not about the son, but the father. The story begins in verse 11, “There was a man who had two sons.” The father in the story is a picture of our Heavenly Father. In this story He celebrates a son that was lost, a son that was separated from His dad. Now, as much as I hate to admit it, I have always identified with the other son, the older brother. He’s the one who stayed home, took care of his business, and did what was “right.” He represents the religious folks. He never understood the father’s celebration of the son who returned, who squandered the family money, dishonored his father and the whole family, and did all this intentionally for his own selfish desires. When I read the story this time, it was with a whole new perspective. I understood the father, the parent who was separated from his child. I could see for the first time the DEEP GRIEF our heavenly Father feels when His children are separated from Him, when they don’t walk together and talk together. I felt a grief for the lost I’d never felt before. I was able to see, though ever so slightly, a perspective God has for His children who are far from Him. I’m grateful for that perspective and hope that I will always see a lost person for what they are, a child separated from a Father who grieves that separation every minute of every day. Grief is hard.
But, there is good news. God made a way! He made a way, through Jesus, for each of us to have a relationship with Him, to dwell with Him now and forever. This truth gives me hope! Grief is hard, but if you know Jesus, it’s not forever!
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:3-4