Are any of you hurting? Mourning the loss of someone you love dearly?
I lost my cousin in June. June 2, actually. My wedding anniversary. Not that it matters much, but it was a stark reminder that on this earth we will continually be forced to hold joy in one hand and pain in the other, often at the same time.
Nick was born on January 4, 1982. We were born two months and one day apart. He would be turning 37 this Friday. Should be turning 37 this Friday. But cancer stole him away from us far too soon. Eight months from diagnosis to death. It’s just too much for my heart to make sense of.
Today, my husband and I took our kids to see Mary Poppins Returns. I heard great reviews but had no idea the depth it would reach into my hurting heart. I will not share details, but only say the movie addresses losing someone you love and learning to move forward in life in their absence.
I wasn’t expecting this when we sat down in our comfy, reclining chairs to enjoy the show. I wasn’t expecting the tears to start and not stop as the storyline tenderly tapped open a part of my grieving heart I had not allowed to see the light of day.
GRIEF IS AN EBB AND FLOW SORT OF RIDE. The minute you feel you’ve come to a stop to catch your breath, the clank of the rolling wheels jolts you back into the reality that you’re on your way back up to top again. Each bump pings you with the inevitability of what you know is only moments away: the drop.
As emotional a person I am, I hate to cry. I don’t mean getting teared-up at a sentimental commercial or song. Like really crying. I know I *need* to cry to allow my body to release the pain that wells up inside. But it takes so much energy. And it hurts. My eyes swell up, my nose clogs up, my head begins to hurt… Then there’s the lovely moment when you try to swallow but your nose is too clogged to push air through that your ears clog too and you’re stuck in that very uncomfortable gagging state.
It’s just not convenient. There never seems to be a “good time” for this pain-inducing, snotty-nosed, clogged ear experience.
So in my lack of properly scheduling a good cry, the ugly cry sneaks out if it’s given the slightest opening in the door of my heart. That’s what happened in the movie today. I had been holding the pain in for so long that it came exploding out. Because one tear was allowed to fall, it seems every other tear in my body felt led to follow suite and escape! “She let the wall down, CHARGE!”
It took me a good 20 minutes after the movie ended to collect myself. Not because the movie was particularly sad. But because I had not allowed myself permission to cry. For a long time. So out came the tears in the movie theatre… and the bathroom… and my car… But that’s ok. Because my heart needed that space, however “inconvenient”.
Has this ever happened to you? You’re confronted with a moment where a tear or two should have done the job, but you find yourself ugly crying in a space not intended for ugly crying?
I want to give you, and myself, permission to let the tears flow.
After the movie, I explained to my husband and kids that I needed to take a little time to myself to process, pray, write and read.
So here I am sitting in a Starbucks, doing just that.
I went home, grabbed my laptop, bible, notebook and Michele Cushatt’s memoir: Undone, A Story of Making Peace with an Unexpected Life. A Christmas present from my husband, I just opened it tonight and I’m already 63 pages in. I couldn’t put it down. Cancer became an unexpected companion to Michele a few years ago, and reading her journey brought me comfort tonight as I mourn and miss my cousin Nick.
I’d like to leave you with an excerpt from her beautifully written book:
“On the evening of that first day of the week [after Jesus was crucified and buried], when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them.” (from Luke 24:36-49)
Jesus, alive? Impossible. They blinked and fanned their faces.
A wish? Or real?
“Peace be with you!”
The mirage spoke. The first words of the Savior to the saved.
“The disciples were overjoyed when they saw the Lord. Again Jesus said, “Peace be with you!”
All it took was the presence of Jesus for terror and tension to flee. Not a change in circumstances or a reassurance of how the rest of the story would play out. Not even a solid answer to the question of why.
Peace isn’t a byproduct of control, the payout of a happy conclusion. Peace is the infiltrating, life-giving presence of a very real God.
Whatever you face today, dear one, remember that God is near. Jesus is real and He offers us peace beyond our circumstances and broken hearts.
Join me in REFRAMING our grief through the lens of Jesus’ presence and peace.