Acknowledging Grief

I enter the room, carefully maneuvering around the land mine of a familiar face, which I desire to avoid for fear familiarity will cause an explosion to my composure.

I make my way to a corner to hide in the wide-open, when the gracious host walks my way and asks how I am doing. “I am on the verge of a panic attack.” I honestly answer. She acknowledges my pain with words of comfort, and by pulling me close.

When I say something that instantly feels profound, “I want this more.”  As much as I struggle each time entering this room, especially after last week’s discouraging news, I want to be in that room more than allowing fear to cause me to flee.

Sometimes there are times we need to set grief aside for the better option, which in this case is community.

Yet, there is also a time to be still and acknowledge the deep sadness within and not run from her turmoil.  Like right now. The tears are fighting for release.  And all attempts to keep them under lock and key have me an anxious mess.

Release is important and necessary. It doesn’t mean that I’ve given up on miracles–not at all.  I send desperate pleas Heavenward on a nightly basis. Because truly the landscape is prime for a God-sized miracle as we are without human hope.

Still, to only believe that healing will occur and not allowing myself time to grieve is dangerous ground to tread. Maybe I’ve said this already, maybe I haven’t, but grief is a process that begins before the end of a life. And it is good to grieve.

I grieve when I see him pack away years of hard work into boxes and trash cans.

I grieve when I see him plan for our future without him.

I grieve when I lay beside him at night knowing that this may end sooner than later.

I grieve the day our girls walk down aisles without gripping tightly to their daddy’s Popeye-sized forearms.

Grief is perfectly normal as I reflect on how much this man means to our family.  To attempt to deny the affect his life has on mine would be disastrous to my wellbeing.

I saw a couple on Fox News one morning, a Christian couple I might add, who shared the heartbreaking story of the loss of their son.  I caught the story mid-stream, but guessing they wrote a book on their story.

Leaning in, I listen as my heart prepares to be empathetic with their hardship, I hear the words of the mom and instead feel agitation rise as I yell at her, “This is wrong. You are not grieving. Don’t you see that you are living in denial by not accepting his death?”

Cliff note version:  She says she refuses to use the word death to describe her son because he is in Heaven, or on the other side, or something of that nature. True.  But my issue is with what happened to him, not his whereabouts. He is dead.  Death is a hard word to say, I get it.  But, she needs to come to terms with it, not deny it. It won’t make it worse, it actually will make it better in the long run.  Because by denying this, I don’t believe she is fully grieving the loss of her son.

I know this because I once stayed at a Holiday Inn Express. Seriously, I am Hospice certified in South Dakota.

That, and my sister died years ago, but because we never dealt with her absence by acknowledgement of her death, the hurt remained underneath the surface for a very long time.

It is healthy to make peace through grief when a loved one is resting in peace. It will rip your heart out more than you think possible.  It may make you throw up.  It is okay to not be okay.

I want this more…

I want to entirely feel even when the feeling overwhelms me to a point of collapse of composure.




Pity says, “When it rains it pours.”

You know the saying, “When it rains, it pours. ..”

Well, I have an abscess that’s requiring a root canal.  Yes, it seems as if another tooth lost its war in my mouth. And, if you knew my aversion to dentistry, even though my dearly loved father-in-law was an expert in the field, you’d understand.

Last year’s implant was not as simple as the procedure presented itself, and lingering pain meandered to the teeth nearby, leaving me downing ibuprofen for months before the pain subsided for good.

So yes, I abhor the dentist office.

Add to that, I heard my dad’s health has faded and his cancer, which seemed temporarily dormant, has returned on the scene.

And then, there was yesterday’s tipping point with the oncologist and the possibility of pharmaceutical trials. Hoping for a clear answer, one drawn in black and white in which I prayed, but instead was more of a dismal-gray no way.

So maybe you can understand the rainy season we’ve encountered, when the sun hasn’t shone in entirely too long, that has me urging to say, “When it rains it pours?”

Last week I felt pity nearby tying to enter while I was at my lowest, saying, “it’s not fair,” as a guttural groan exited my insides and shocked my ears.

No, life is not fair, but when was fair a guarantee in this life anyway?

That, and I don’t want a fair-weather faith.  I want a faith that’s strong when the tides roll in adversity, as well as smooth-sailing days.

And pity can wreck my faith by causing my focus to turn inward and off God, and instead to an Eeyore perspective of hard situations, “Could be worse. Not sure how, but it could be.”

Yet, God promises something different in our dire state:

He keeps track of all our sorrows and collects our tears in a bottle.

He mourns when we mourn.

He even takes care to keep our heads above the tides when trials cause us to sink. 

Knowing this, I find comfort and peace.




Prayer Works

The past few days have been processed in small increments–only allowing myself to go so far into the depths, and instead staying closest to the shallow end.

Still, I’ve pondered the medicinal side of things, and all the remedies that seemed to only feed the cancerous cells, while simultaneously destroying Bill’s taste buds.

He’s had to endure the cider shots, not at all similar to a jello shot.  The oils of old, like Frankincense and herbal supplements.  Then there was the angiogenesis inhibitor eating plan that was supposed to combat cancerous cell growth by way of simple nutrition.

There were the big strategies provided by the professionals.  Surgeries, immunotherapy, which reportedly cured a former President, and old-time varieties like killer chemo, known for the destruction of everything in its wake.

And, of course my encouragement to think positive thoughts, because positivity is a killer of all things bad, right?  Unfortunately, all uplifting thoughts were destroyed the moment the television turned to the morning networks, and a heated political debate ensued over the condition of our world.

Nothing has worked.

Even the new drug approved the day after the terminal diagnosis was administered.  When mentioned to his oncologist, his response was it would be similar to switching from Pepsi to Coke. Basically pointless. His cancer brushed away each strategy as if they were mere crumbs on the collar.

Our Hail Mary awaits on Monday.

We travel across the oncology hall to the yet-to-be-approved area of trials.  I envision dark rooms with lab-coated doctors with names like Frankenstein and Jekyll, stirring smokey pots of potions to test on frightened patients.

If you cannot tell, I am not entirely excited about this appointment.  But, we will enter with expectation and hope for a cure.

In all honesty, my prayer of the moment is if this trial doesn’t work to restore life, then the door remain closed and he is not a candidate.  Because I’d rather he not be a lab rat and steal from the treasure of today.  Make sense?

I woke up to a vision the other night.

It was the inside of a jewel box.  Dark soft material, maybe brown. In the upper left corner were two small words in typewriter print:

prayer works

Prayer works.  Yes, it does.  Actually, of all the tried and failed attempts at healing, He is our only hope for cure. And prayer works for more than big miracles.

Prayer works to calm our fearful hearts.

Prayer works to guide us through difficult terrain.

Prayer works to ease discomfort and pain.

Prayer works against the enemy trying to put a choke-hold on today’s peace.

Prayer works behind the scenes in ways we are entirely oblivious.

Sometimes, prayer works to…

I pray because prayer works as a tether to intimacy with our immense God who wants to draw us near, and hold us close.

“Jesus, tug us so close to You that our heartstrings are as one beat.”