When we reach the crossroads of grief, for a while we stand in the middle of the road. When we take a look backward, we see the long, winding road we’ve travelled on the journey through grief. When we look in the other direction, we see the unknown road that will lead us toward renewed hope, recovered love, and belief in the future.
We read in Deuteronomy 30, verse 19, “Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life.” At the moment in grief when we make the decision to choose life, we square our shoulders and march forward to rejoin the world in the fulness of life for which God created us.
Moving forward in life has nothing to do with forgetting our loved one. Our shared love will always be a part of our heart, because love is. We will never, ever forget the one we love and have grieved so well.
Moving forward is about moving toward a different place, a place where grief is fully incorporated into our life, a place of eternal spiritual connection to our loved one, a place that builds on all we had together, a place that opens us to whatever God has planned for our future—for we know that with God, the best is yet to be.
When the crossroads of grief point the way toward new life, we offload the baggage of the past and take with us only the backpack that contains the gifts of our grief. For whether or not we realize it, the experience of grief bestows upon us many unexpected gifts. Grief teaches us greater self-confidence and courage. Grief affirms our stand-alone identity and sense of self-worth. Grief shows us the unique God-given gifts and graces that are ours to share with others.
We honor our loved one and our experience of grief when we use the gifts of our grief to serve others, and in doing so, to serve God. Sometimes we’re surprised by a new sense of our own value in the world when we find ways that we can use our experience of death and grief to benefit others. Never forget that there is always someone who needs your care, your understanding, and your support. More importantly, never forget that there is always someone whose grief is newer than yours.
Though the gifts of grief are similar yet different for each one of us, for most of us they include:
- a better understanding of compassion
- a more personal relationship with God
- an unshakeable conviction that life is worth living
We know what grief feels like. It is our sacred responsibility to use the gifts of our grief to help others. Because of our experience, we are able to offer the gift of authentic comfort to someone whose heart is broken by death and grief. In 2 Corinthians 1, verse 3, we read this about comfort as a gift of our grief, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”
On the last occasion that my beloved husband was in the pulpit, he offered this pastoral prayer, “We have come this far by faith, and we will continue to walk with our hand in yours wherever you lead us.” God is faithful. In life, in death, in life beyond death, God is with us. Thanks be to God.
...for we walk by faith, not by sight.
2 Corinthians 5:7