Expressed below is the raw truth about how my grief affects me; some of it ugly, some of it good:
"Grief will be expressed." In times of great sorrow, this fact is inevitable. My grief has caused me to weep without control; to cry out to the Lord and beg of him; to lose patience without warrant; to praise God with a deeper passion than I previously knew; to depend on my wife in a whole new way. My grief wants me to be sad, because my sorrow feels like a testament of my love for Noah. It fears moving on with my life, because to move on feels like forgetting. My grief is never fully gone, just temporarily contained. Even in the midst of the best distractions (playing with my daughter, laughing with my wife, watching sports), my grief weighs on my chest like a pending exam.
I must not ignore, suppress, or hide my grief, because it will express itself. Failure to face it would allow it to fester inside of me, to grow into a monster that would be destructive to myself and my relationships with others.
They say that grief can be a wedge. I take that to mean that grief is something that can take a crack and turn it into a crevice. Nothing has helped me with grief as much as the strength and depth of my marriage to Katie. We are in no way perfect, but we have always communicated and worked on our issues as they arise. This healthy practice in marriage has eliminated cracks for grief to wedge open. Grief doesn't always draw a couple into a deeper relationship, but it often is the wedge that splits two people apart. I couldn't heal in this process without my wife!
I have not allowed myself to ask the question "Why?", although I cannot say I never will. I feel it is not my place to know why; rather, I entrust that question to God. I trust Him, knowing that He is good, just, merciful, loving, powerful, and righteous. He determines why, and does not always share it with me. But I rest in the knowledge that what He does, and why He does it, is right! My grief would have me ask "Why"; it would assume I deserve the answer, but I am aided by my knowledge of the book of Job: real grief caused for reasons he could not comprehend, yet God never explains why. Job questions why and God simply replies with "Who are you to question Me?"
It is said that grief is a process, and that much I am sure of. It doesn't disappear overnight; it can't be dealt with in a day. I am not, however, convinced that I have to go through all the stages of grief in order to properly grieve. I don't feel that just because I never got angry or depressed that I somehow did not grieve as much as someone who did go through those things. How much I loved Noah, and how much it hurts now that he is gone, is not lesser because I choose not to get angry. I suppose, however, that it is still to be seen all the stages that I will go through.
My grief needs to be informed of the positive. I remind it that much good has come of this situation. There are incredible blessings that have come along with this heartache. I was blessed with a son; a son that I got to love. We have been blessed by the overwhelming proof that we are part of the loving family of God, who have all poured out their love and care for us. I am blessed to be deepened in my dependency on God; and amazingly we have been able to share our faith with people we wouldn't have been able to without this loss. My grief must be reminded of these blessings, and so many others, in order that it is not allowed to blind my heart.
Finally, two simple things have alone been of greatest comfort in my grief: ears and arms. It is a great comfort to me to be able sit with someone who I know cares and have them just listen to me express my grief. Often people feel the need to say something comforting, and although I appreciate their words, nothing comforts me like a person who actively listens. Secondly, the arms of a heartfelt hug are of nearly equal comfort to that of listening ears. Nothing, including ears and arms, will take away my sorrow, but knowing that someone cares and wants to bear some of my burden is very comforting still.
My prayer is that by sharing the depths of my grief uncensored others who will go through grief may benefit from these thoughts, and that we can resonate together to turn our loss into gain for the Glory of God! Remember, we have a Savior who knows loss and grief intimately. Jesus bore it all on the cross, and there is no depth of grief and sorrow that He has not experienced, and that He has not overcome. In Him, we have victory over all tragedies.