Many of us have experienced the ever popular ice breaker game called “Two Truths and a Lie”. You basically make three statements about yourself (one of them being untrue) and ask the group listening to guess which statement was a lie. This ice breaker has been used in businesses, churches, summer camps, and even sleepovers to help people get to know one another and build camaraderie.
Well, today we are going to ask a friend of mine named Grief to come play.
You see, Grief and I have been very close friends for several years. Grief entered my story as a full-time cast member when my daughter, Olly Belle, was diagnosed with a terminal illness in September 2019. Six short months later, Olly was welcomed home in heaven. Therefore, Grief and I have logged quite a bit of time together, whether it be one-acts, disagreements, ugly tears, or uncovering all sorts of truths (and lies).
If our life is a story, Grief is that friend that is always present throughout the entire book. He never truly leaves the story for good; you can find him often lingering in the background, pretending to be an extra, or watching the other characters from afar. In my story, he is often the character I roll my eyes at when I read ahead and see he has lines in the next chapter.
But today, I want to give him some credit (since he wants it anyway) and speak to what he is:
- Grief doesn’t play by any sort of rulebook. Grief is just as unique to an individual as a fingerprint is. There is no playbook, scorecard, or rules to follow.
- You cannot hide from Grief. He finds ways to surprise you. Whether it be today, tomorrow, or two years from now, he is sort of like that whack-a-mole game at Chuck-E-Cheese. Surprise! I’m still here!
- Grief can be beautiful, especially when you watch young children experience it so raw, honestly, and faithfully. Grief can also remind you at the oddest moments just how much you miss something or someone just by looking at a ladybug, sunset, or a cute picture on a duffle bag.
- Grief can feel like a giant tsunami at times. He can make you feel underwater, like you have lost your breath and need a lifeboat. (But don’t worry, that lifeboat always comes.)
Now for some lies:
- “Time will heal and make Grief go away.” Oh, this one gets under my skin sometimes. Time does not heal; it just allows Grief time for a wardrobe change. In my humble opinion, Grief morphs, changes, evolves, and eventually shows up less frequently in our stories as we learn more about him and walk past him confidently as we strengthen our faith muscles and mature as Christians, but he never fully goes away.
- “At least you had the time you did with ‘that person’ or ‘situation’ “. There is not some unwritten rule about an amount of time deemed “enough” with someone or something. There will never be enough time on this side of heaven for any of us, which is why the Bible tells us to “number our days” (Psalm 90:12) and that “we do not know what tomorrow will bring, for we are a mist that appears for a little time” (James 4:14).
- “God needed them more than we did.” Oh my, when did death become a response to a need by God? He has no needs yet he does have a plan for each and every one of us, and will call his good and faithful servants home when it’s time. “The Lord bless you, and keep you, make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you, and give you peace” (Numbers 6:24-26).
- “You‘re so strong” or “I would die if the tables were turned”. Oh Mylanta…I don’t think you choose strength in these situations. You just choose to keep your head above water (or let yourself drown). Most of us choose to grab a life jacket and lean on our support systems, our beliefs, and on God. Psalm 121:1-8 says that our “help comes from the lord” and that “he watches over us, our lives, our coming, and our going, now and forevermore”. Amen to that, right?!
- “The Lord doesn’t give us more than we can handle.” Can I be real? I have a hard time believing that God dishes out tragedies in proportion to our skill-set or ability to handle them. There are so many tragedies in life that are not orchestrated by God. So can we all agree that crappy things happen to really good people? They did nothing to “earn” the tragedy they experienced.
Also know that it’s okay to be mad, angry, ticked-off, and want to give God a piece of your mind. Its okay to shout at him. He can take it (truly he can!) The Bible says in Psalm 34:18-19 that “the Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. The righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.”
Lastly, there is a beautiful song I run to in times of grief or uncertainty. I encourage you to give it a listen if you find yourself underwater today as you wait for a friend to toss you a life jacket and row that lifeboat your way. I pray the words and melody bring you comfort:
“Life can take our breath away
Tragedy can leave a wake
A broken heart won’t ever beat the same
Pain can stop us in our tracks
Losing what we can’t get back
Shaking the foundations of our faith
No matter what’s in my way
No matter the battles I face
You are still my God” (Amadeo by Ryan Stevenson)
If you are someone grieving today, I am with you. I see you and care about you! You are not alone and you are loved beyond measure. I encourage you to lean into your support systems, lean into your faith, lean into the grief, lean into God’s power and perfect peace so you can expose the lies of Grief and hang onto the truths instead.
** article republished with permission **
Lora Chapman lives with her husband Nate, daughters Mara and Olly, and their dog Daisy. They enjoy time at the lake, watching hockey, playing softball, impromptu dance parties, the local aquarium, and volunteering at the local church. In addition to writing (you can find her blog here!), Lora works as a Learning and Development Manager for a software development company. She also teaches dance part-time to adults and children alike. She is also an Ovarian Cancer Survivor, a bereaved mother to daughter Olly Belle, and above all else a follower of Christ.