Grief touches grief. I have said this often through the years. For example, when a child grieves a pet, the sorrow brings up other sorrows like friends that moved or a grandparent who passed away.
I am not immune. I started off this month in an eerie calm with smiles. But grief touches grief. Reaching out to a new widow. A tragic school shooting. Another widow takes her own life. A teenager dies after a long battle with cancer. The anniversary of a friend’s infant’s homegoing.
The world seem abounding in death right now. My soul aches and familiar rivers flow down my cheeks. Grief swirls around me, but it is not my own. It is for others.
I grieve for a new widow, just three weeks on this journey. I pray for her as horrible images can haunt the griefstricken. They flash vividly before her each time she closes her eyes for longer than a blink. Decisions of huge proportion are having to be made and she must keep standing. She must make decisions in a fog of denial. All she wants is to wake up from this nightmare. Her children look to her for strength and she feels empty. She stands as a shell of a woman who used to be a wife. She is repulsed by this new role thrust upon her: widow.
I grieve for kids in school who lived through a nightmare and wonder if they will ever feel safe again. I grieve for families whose teenagers never came home. I think of brave heroes who ran to their deaths defending others and the survivors who feel guilty for breathing.
I grieve for a widow’s family who in just four months lost both parents. I grieve for her cuz I know how overwhelming the pain can be. I understand how a widow can lose all hope of healing. The enemy of her soul whispers lie after lie, deceiving her that death is the only escape. My mind plays back countless sleepless nights filled with love bleeding out my eyes and grief wails escaping my throat. Of being terrified of the future. Of the sharp pain each morning when a new day came without my Jim. How can someone hurt so much inside and yet still be alive, I wondered. It hurt to just breathe. I never thought of suicide. But I do remember thinking I was going to die from the pain.
I grieve for parents having to watch their child fight against all odds even as cancer consumed her body. Who stood in awe of God’s power and grace on their daughter who touched the lives of hundreds, perhaps thousands. Now they face an empty bedroom and have a hole the size of a canyon in their family.
I grieve for my friend who will never hold her son again until heaven. She never got to hear him call her mommy or teach him to read. She lives too far away for me to hug. And friends there never knew her son. I held her little bit of heaven and 5 years later I still think of holding him. His eyes were so wise and held secrets only the Lord knows. I pray she has friends who understand that grief has no timetable and will listen with compassion.
Yes, grief touches grief. And it swirls around me. Memories resurrect and are sifted through. Grief stomps into my kitchen like he is trying to get snow off his boots. My soul frantically throws up walls trying to box in the pain. Experience, though, has taught me what damage this does within. Healing will only come when they crumble.
To try to chisel away at it, I read an article about widows and suicide. I read another widow’s story and finally the dam breaks. Tears come as I weep and grieve for others. My head still feels like it is in a swirling, blinding blizzard, so I escape to my room and journal. I write and write till the tears stop and the ache melts. The Comforter comes.
And Grief goes stomping outside again, but it may return tomorrow. And on my cheeks are dry riverbeds of salt. Little crystals touching one another like the grief in my soul.