Sitting With Messy Grief
The turbulence caused by losing a loved one causes those first long days of mourning to become foggy in memory, but the people who showed up stood up and rose up in the midst of life’s chaotic whirlwind stand out. As someone who has spent time cocooned in grief and blankets on the edge of a couch, I recall the faces that came in and out. When life’s and death’s sorrows pile up, our thoughts can easily become characterized by messy questions rather than solid faith.
It would be naive to believe that life can be lived without incident, though I might take that option if it were available. We are all witnesses to how quickly life can become layered and difficult. We have a choice in the midst of the trial stacking. Allow people to enter. Allow God (who already knows) to enter. Alternatively, leave the facade alone.
Messy Bereavement Holly Hawes’s In an age when friendships can be formed online, the ability to isolate ourselves from interactions with others grows. Our relationships frequently appear to be “fair weather” rather than “anchored.” When the water is rough, we need to know that solid ground is available. Who will be present? What is the truth?
God is not concerned about our mess. He pursues us wherever we are, whether it is because of sin or because of suffering. According to Psalm 34:18, “the Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.”
His proximity and presence aren’t just an afterthought; they permeate every nook and cranny of the story arc of time. People walked with God in the Garden of Eden from the beginning of time. The “with” was broken by sin, and a saviour was promised, one named “Immanuel” (which means “God with us”) in Matthew chapter 1.
Not God, who is looking on from afar. We have God with us.
In what I’ve come to call witness, there’s a lot of room for a holy community.
Identifying with another person and sticking by their side during a storm. Being with them regardless of how difficult or messy it becomes. See also, unwavering love.
This cosmic witness is referred to as incarnation. God taking on human form and identifying with us. Jesus did not flee the shambles. Loneliness, disappointment, loss, rocky friendships, and betrayal were all experiences he had.
He can deal with our questions and days that appear bold, broken, and dark. Instead of pushing him away, Mess draws closer. He appears.
“I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love because you have seen my affliction; you have known the distress of my soul,” says Psalm 31:7.
We must remove the masks, masks, and pretences and be comforted by how God sees us. He is aware. Immanuel is full of mercy and unfailing love.
It is less important who is with us and who we are with. We have the opportunity to show the world God’s goodness. While acting as Jesus’ hands and feet may sound cliche, we often overlook what an honour it is. Until God’s dwelling is with us in glory, the people of God go to offer presence to others through the power of His spirit.
Holly Hawes’s Messy Bereavement There are numerous impediments to simply slowing down to be with others, especially during times of grief or loss. We get caught up in our own busy lives and fail to notice how they wither and withdraw day by day. We’re not sure if we should bring up their suffering, so we don’t. We put on the mask for them, pretending not to notice that their lives have been shattered, but we don’t always need to force discussion when we know how to be with them. “I’m here to talk if you want to, but I’m also here to be,” we can say. You are not alone; simply let me know what you require. I also brought chocolate, blankets, coffee, movies, and other goodies.”
It meant a lot to me when someone cared in the midst of a mess with truth, not platitudes. It was important that love was translated into action: the friend who brought flowers, another who fed us, and the one who took over my dirty dishes in the sink. Despite the fact that the world was spinning, God came, and He sent his people to be with me when I had nothing to offer.
I was full of doubt when the mess of despair filled me and threatened to overflow. Others’ presence reminded me that God had not abandoned me. He had not abandoned me. He was in pain, but He was still sweet. He was present in the present moment, as well as with the one who was no longer with me.