The other night I was driving home late by myself. Life felt heavy, and sadness overwhelmed me. A favorite song of Kara’s came on the radio: Gungor’s Beautiful Things. It tells a story of God redeeming beauty from ashes.
Even with the truth of the song, I felt weighed down by grief and sadness—Kara’s death, my own mom’s cancer, Syrian babies drowning...it sometimes feels like the sky is falling, doesn’t it?
Just then, the dark night sky exploded with fireworks! The Rockies baseball game must have been ending; I was driving straight in the direction of the stadium, and for several minutes, I got to watch the night sky light up! And just like the fireworks broke through the darkness of the sky, the joy they inspired broke up the darkness of my grief.
I realized that this is how grief works: I was still missing Kara, I was still worried about my mom, yet I was also simultaneously filled with wonder at the fireworks. It’s a both/and.
Kara is my first very close friend to die. So while I’m grieving, I’m also learning how to grieve.
Most of the spring after Kara died I spent angry. I didn’t mean to be, but every emotion somehow expressed itself as anger. Eventually I understood that with four little kids in the house, I didn’t have a lot of time to process what I was feeling; I wasn’t giving myself time to grieve. Once I recognized that I was bottling up my sadness and was not actually angry, I felt freed. I gave myself more time alone. I put worship music on my headphones and went on long walks. I talked to my husband about my feelings more. I was learning to release all the emotions I had been stuffing.
I also realized I can't do grief right and make it go away. Personally, I would much rather get it all over with and move on but it doesn't work that way. Yet just like fireworks and my sadness, we can continue to enjoy life and still grieve, and that’s really okay.
Jason does that really well—encouraging his family to seek new experiences and new joys, while still grieving his wife and their mama. Some days are filled with more sadness. Some with more joy.
I have also begun to accept my own mortality. Honestly, I hadn’t really thought of it very much before. Death hasn’t been a huge part of my life; quite frankly, my life has been relatively easy. Sure there have been bumps, and I do not take ease for granted, but I will say it’s made things harder when things don’t go as I’d like. So because of this, when life gets hard, I am shocked.
I shouldn’t be, but I am.
All that to say, I’ve finally come to terms that one day I’m going to die. One of the things I loved about Kara was that she faced death head on. I tremble when I think of it, I tremble thinking of her last moments. But she didn’t. I’m not sure why we don’t talk of eternity more when what God offers us is truly remarkable...maybe because it’s scary? Death is real—very real—and can come at any time. I can’t face it head on like Kara did, but I can at least look at it quickly and know that I will be okay. Heaven is real, there is more to come. This is not the end!
I’m learning, ever so slowly, that God truly is my comforter in life and in death.
In what ways do you struggle to believe God is your comforter in life and in death? Do you have a story where grace showed up big like fireworks? Did you recognize the grace in the moment? Is there someone near you who is suffering and could use a gentle, loving reminder of God’s comfort?