Grief is a hard thing to define. If you've never experienced it you don't get it. People around you grieve at the loss of a loved one, or are broken over infertility, or their marriage has ended: you name it, people are grieving. But if you have never had the aching of your soul as a result of loss you will never get it. You may think that people need to move on. You may be concerned that they have severe mental illness. You may even think that quoting Bible verses (out of context and not from experience) is the answer because then at least you're saying something, and it's from the Bible so it must be good.
Grief can look a lot like depression, anger, anxiety, selfishness, bitterness. And it can turn into those things and more if it's avoided. It is a place of great loneliness, longing for something you will never have. It is a wilderness that tests your faith, that changes the facets of your soul, that adds depth to everything you thought you knew, and takes away a lot of your preconceived notions. It can at times feel like a vast emptiness, and at other times leave you so full of emotion that you are without words to express the weight of your heart. It comes gushing forth, often at inconvenient or embarrassing times. It can lie dormant for a long time, just waiting for your guard to be down so that it can pounce again on the rubble of your heart.
Everything in me cries out, "This is not how it's supposed to be!" While sometimes it feels like the cry of a petulant child seeking a selfish sense of justice, it often is from a heart that knows it was not made to deal with this. I don't know how to deal with the loss of my daughter. Nothing in my previous experience prepared me for loving a child I have never met. Nothing on Earth can explain why my heart chose to love this specific child; why she is ever with me. It doesn't make sense! I know in my heart that she is mine, yet there is no moment in time when I can say, "That's it! That's when she became mine. That's when I knew." She has always been mine, and will always be, even though she may never know it.
But it's exhausting to deal with a broken heart. There is a deep weariness of soul that comes with grief. Most days I get out of bed and trudge through the waist-deep mud of heartache as if it's normal. Some days it is neck-deep or higher and there is a sense of heart drowning. These are the days when I desperately cry out to God for mercy. Come save me! Rescue me from this deep ocean of brokenness!
And God is ever faithful. He brings the healing salve of his Word to my wounded soul. He gives my husband the words to speak life in the desert. He causes others to carry the burden for a while so that I can rest. He reminds me to take refuge in him, to trust him, to let him lead me as the Good Shepherd of my wandering heart. He is always kind, and gentle with the broken pieces of my heart.
May there be a day when I can proclaim with the Psalmist - Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Oh sweet Lord, let it be so!