Monday, April 4, 2011

The Gift of Grief

Yesterday, at our church, the sermon was based on the movie, “Letters to God.” It was about suffering and grief, and how God makes something beautiful from our pain. Topics like that always resonate with me.

Years ago, I thought being a Christ follower meant having all my needs (and wants) met. Prosperity, healing, a perfect family. Yet that hasn’t been my reality, and it has taken me years to learn why.

“Letters to God” is based on a true story about Tyler, an 8-year-old boy who has brain cancer. In one of the scenes a grandfather figure explains to Tyler that he was “chosen by God” for a unique “honor.” Chosen by God to suffer? Not exactly. Tyler was chosen by God to be a warrior, to point people to God.

That’s kind of the way I feel about grief. When we first lost our daughter in a car accident almost seven years ago, I felt like I had become a member of a club no one wants to join. I’m a member of a few other clubs I rather not have joined, but the “Outliving Your Child Club” has been one of the most painful.

As I woke up this morning, I had a picture in my head of grief being like a gift. I know that sounds strange, but it’s true. It’s a gift that no one really wants, but we all receive at some point in life. Some of us receive it earlier in life. Some receive it more often. But if you ever love anyone, chances are, you will receive the gift of grief somewhere along the way.

My grief if wrapped up in a beautiful box. Early in my grief journey, I carried it with me everywhere I went. It was heavy and it consumed every moment of every day. It invaded every decision, every action, every move I made. I couldn’t escape it. I couldn’t go into Wal Mart without carrying this giant gift with me.

As time went by, I was able to leave my gift at home more often. It was still there. It was still mine, but I didn’t have to carry it with me everywhere I went. Now, almost seven years after my daughter’s death, it’s like I keep my gift on a shelf. Every now and then, especially on holidays, birthdays, and what would have been milestones in her life, I take my gift down off the shelf. I open it up and take out my grief. I hold it in my hands, turning it over and over. I feel the weight of it, the hardness of it. I know this sounds crazy, but I also admire its beauty. I cry a little—sometimes a lot. I blog about it some, but not as often as I used to. But then, I put my grief back in that box. I tie the beautiful bow around it, and I gently place it back on the shelf.

Then I go on with life. Seven years ago, I never would have believed that I could go on with life without my daughter. But here I am, functioning, parenting again, serving, living. And my gift of grief remains… until the next time I take it down off the shelf. My grief has changed my life, but it no longer consumes my life. Because of this gift, I have found a Hope that I otherwise would never have known… a true Unswerving Hope.


  1. I related to your grief in my miscarriages that happened in 04. I still take it out at times. In 07 when that preschool class started and when I saw them on preschool sunday, when I saw that age group at dance recital. It would have been another first grade this last year. But most of the time I can put it away and just enjoy raising the precious gift that I have with me daily, even when she leaves her purse at church! I know these years will be over too soon, and that will be another kind of grief. Listening to Cami sing yesterday was so inspiring. "it's gonna be worth it", hard to imagine, but it will.

  2. Well said, Cynthia. Cami's song was amazing... so much more powerful knowing what she's going through. And I do know it's gonna be worth it! Thank you for sharing!

  3. Cindy....such a powerful thought provoking entry. It is just so amazing how God uses horrible times in our lives to teach us. Looking back it is clearer to see, but at the time we are walking through fire....I'm just glad to have you in my life to express your thoughts which give me hope when I get caught up in mine.... Cami's song gave me a lot to think about and know that if she has hope in her grief and you have hope in yours then we can all have hope in our grief and sorrow!

  4. Hey, I just came across your blog by doing a bit of blog-surfing and I'm glad I did! I've added myself as your newest follower, and I hope you'll check out my Christian devotional site as well.

    Have a blessed day!

    In Christ,
    Dakota - A Look at Life from a Deerstand

  5. So eloquently put, C. He's truly given you a gift of words.

  6. Thinking of you and praying for you today as you take the box off the shelf for awhile. Love you.


I would love to hear from you! Let me know what you think and how I can pray for you. Most of us are carrying some pretty heavy baggage and the good news is, you don't have to carry it alone! You can lay it at the feet of Jesus, and sometimes we need help just letting go of our baggage and not picking it up again. We're in this together!