The Grief Now Is Because Of The Joy Then

On Monday of this week my mind was filled with memories of my dear and beautiful friend, Jenny, who was taken from this earth fourteen years ago. She and her twin sister had become like little sisters to me. Her death catapulted me into a season of loss and while it wasn't my first season of loss, it was a very profound and life-changing one. It was during that season that my life phrase, "love deeply, hold loosely" emerged. That phrase really was birthed out of the question, "why bother loving anyone when it hurts so much to lose?" Her death made me question my life and relationships in big ways. It triggered past losses and tested my ability to get close to people, to love, to be loved. Suddenly, everything felt so fragile, though I suspect it had been fragile all along and I was just living under some illusion of control.

After months of wrestling through questions, trying to swim out from under the waves of grief, I began to emerge with a strengthened desire to love and invest in relationships. It felt scary because the pain felt so real and so...well, painful. Yet I stumbled across the words of CS Lewis, in reference to losing his wife, "Why love if losing hurts so much? I have no answers any more. Only the life I have lived. Twice in that life I've been given the choice: as a boy and as a man. The boy chose safety, the man chose suffering. The pain now is part of the joy then. That's the deal."

That's the deal. But there is some strange comfort in realizing that the pain you feel in loss, any kind of loss really, is because there was some joy to begin with. I currently find myself in another season of loss. It's been a string of losses actually, as I lost my ability to run and level of fitness with my hip injury, I had a great friend move away, we are experiencing some turmoil and loss in our church, and amidst all of that, after five months of trying, I got pregnant with our third child and then I miscarried. There has been a barrage of emotional waves for sure, but grief has been the biggest of them all. 

Whether it is the loss of a person, of a job, of health, of innocence, of safety, or of a dream, loss of all kinds evokes the same emotions, sadness, anger, fear, despair. They don't all come at the same time, though they may, and they don't all last for equal amounts of time. And they certainly aren't predictable. Like unwelcome house guests, they just come when they want and stay for as long as they want, even when you're begging for them to leave. It is safe to say that it's that lack of control that is one of the most difficult parts of grief for me. I don't want to start crying when I am in the grocery store check out line standing behind a mom and her newborn baby. I don't want to feel it then. I can't afford to break down in tears when I'm trying to get the boys out the door for school. I need to hold it together, or so I sometimes tell myself. But the truth is, I can't. The emotions come when they want to and actually, I think that's probably a good thing. A healing thing. I need to feel those things. Don't ask me why. I just know that I need to.

There are four truths that this season of loss, mainly the miscarriage, has imprinted upon me.

1) When there is a loss, we feel not only the absence of that which was lost, but we also experience a loss of expectations we had for the future.

2) Our pain informs us of how important that thing we lost was...whether it was a person or a job or a dream. We wouldn't feel sad about losing it if it didn't mean anything to us. The pain now is because of the joy then.

3) Loss attempts to shake our foundation and can leave us fearing more loss, unless our foundation is firm. 

4) When we choose to be vulnerable in our loss, it leads to deeper connection with those around us. And that is both a wonderful and terrifying thing. 

My hope is to write a little bit more about each one of these four statements in four separate posts. Is there any one statement that you resonate with in particular?