Two Sides of A Coin

Stepping off the airplane, I was finally able to get away for vacation. That’s not time off for grief following my husband’s death, but real vacation. You know, the time when you get on a plane or in a car and go somewhere else.


It’s the opportunity to unplug from work and responsibility in order to catch my breath. To reconnect with the me who cowers inside because life demands so much from me. The part of me that strives to cope while grief is ever knocking at the door of my soul.


In the aftermath of my husband’s death, all I wanted to do was run. Run away from the house we shared that was filled with memories. Run away from the responsibility of parenting, bill paying and work obligations. To lay on a beach and pretend that my life had not been devastated that September Saturday morning.


So the thing about vacation is that there is time to relax and think. There is time to catch up on sleep and read for pleasure. Time to do the things that bring joy, and not just the things that life and work require. Opportunities to try new things and experience wonderful adventures.


Vacation can also be a time that accentuates grief. Because I had been to this vacation spot before with the one I loved and lost, it was also a time to grieve. Memories flooded in and consumed me. I had not expected such a thing to happen, but it did.


I found myself going to places we had visited as a newly married couple. We ventured to sites that had been a joyous time for our family over the years. Eventually experiencing a time of joy from the other side of loss created space for sorrow to bubble up and hijack my vacation.


What I quickly discovered was that the challenges of work and the responsibilities of home life creatively masked the grief that was always lurking just below the surface. All of that responsibility, and the many events on the calendar, melted away when the relaxation of vacation set in, leaving me with time.


Time to remember, time to cry, time to do the hard work that is grief. And it is work. To not work on grief is to rob oneself of the richness of life. Whether it is the hard things that come or the joys that show up unexpectedly.


Day by day, I have learned that life is like a two sided coin. The grief of loss is ever present, seeking ways to be resolved, but often taking a back seat.


The other side of the coin is the life that exists on the other side of loss. The one that learns to love again. That seeks out new adventures. That clings to the memories of the past, while not getting stuck in them. It is living in this tension that provides opportunities to release the tears and sorrow that are difficult to contain.


Each time grief overtakes me, and I plummet to the basement of my grief, I lay there, tears flowing, crying until the tears run dry. Then, once I am spent in my sorrow. I claw my way back up the stairs to the light above, engaging the world once again.


Still, there is the residual effect of the time spent on the cold, dark floor. The aches and pains permeate the body and soul. Yet time and time again, sorrow turns to joy, tears turn to laughter, and the wave of grief subsides… for the time being, anyhow.


In the meantime, I seek ways to live each day to the fullest. To seek out those who are also grieving or hurting and offer support. To spend time each day pondering and praying over the gift of my grief.


FOR FURTHER THOUGHT

This two sided coin comes with the baggage of grief, and it also comes with the promise of greater days to come. Be not afraid to journey. Be not afraid to experience joy. These two exist on the opposite sides of the same coin. The same life that includes your suffering and grief also includes hope.


Find the strength within you, and find your way forward to the joy and blessings that exist even when all hope seems lost.


In my nearly 5 year journey of grief, I have come from a place of despair to hope. It did not happen quickly, and no one but me could determine the time it would take. But believe me, I have come far. Some 14 journals spent in quiet time with God are proof of the growth and healing.


Prayer, key scripture verses, and trust in God are what made it happen. Romans 15:13 (CEB) is one such verse: “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in faith so that you overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Hope was not always overflowing, yet it was always present, even in the toughest moments.


Then there is Jeremiah 29: 11-14: “I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the Lord; they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope. When you call me and come and pray to me, I will listen to you. When you search for me, yes, search for me with all your heart, you will find me. I will be present for you.”


I have called on the Lord often for guidance, support, and for the reminder of the hope promised. God provides in God’s time, and so I have also learned to trust this timing. Patience is not always practiced, yet I try to do my best to believe the promises.


Regardless of what you are going through, God has “a future filled with hope” for you, too. Trust the two sided coin that holds your present predicament in tension with God’s future for you.


PRAYER

Precious Lord, thank You for caring so deeply for me, that You have never left my side. Help me to let loose the doubts and challenges that threaten to take my off of You. Amen.



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