Grieving Nicely

Today marks the sixth month since Pam’s death. Though time has stood still in a sense to me and our family, it has also sped by in ways that I would never have imagined. Many things have begun to return to some semblance of “normal.”

I have known academically and now, by daily experience, that grief is a mysterious and often unpredictable journey. It is not “linear,” meaning it is not a clean, step-by-step predictable process. And just about the time you think you have passed into an easier season, something happens to pull you back.

It is an experience to endure… to walk through patiently day-by-day. You learn early on that there is no point in asking “how long” it will last. It will last until the day that Jesus calls you home. The degree to which it lasts, however, does vary.
There are things that I have changed in our home… which now seems more a house… items I have given to family or friends or donated. But there are areas of the house that seem, for lack of a better word, too “sacred.” I can’t touch those yet… can’t even think about it. I’m sure in time I will be able to… but not yet.

I have attempted to go back to work full-time, and the church has been gracious to give me some months away on sabbatical to heal and to write. Since coming back in early November, I have performed eight funerals… some for people I knew and some I did not. Oddly, I can get through those ok. But weddings… weddings I cannot do yet.

My memory is crystal clear when thinking about our journey since April, and about our lives and journey together. But in spite of an iPhone, iPad and Libby Gillean, my very capable and efficient ministry assistant, I am still forgetful. My counselor tells me that is to be expected.

The grief still “ambushes” me; a song in a store… a fragrance… a moment when someone in public looks like Pam at a glance… a picture that always hangs in the house but for some reason on some days has the power to reduce me to tears. That is the journey. I am told and believe it gets better… and each day I believe God is making it so.

In the meantime, I am “grieving nicely.” My sister-in-law Beth who, along with my brother Mark, have given me refuge time after time through this experience, acquainted me with this phrase. It seems to capture how I truly feel when someone asks me how I’m doing and the day may have been hard. “Grieving nicely” expresses where I seem to be.

I am grateful not to be alone on the journey. My children and their spouses, my granddaughter, a loving family and friends along with an amazing church make the days not only bearable… but even at times joyful.

Your faithful prayers for me have helped make that a possibility.

I have a simple but profound promise that I claim and cling to often. Jesus said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

And for me, that promise will always be enough!

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