Don’t we all love the smell of fresh crayons as we open up a brand new box? On March 31, we can delight our senses of sight, smell and touch as we color and draw to our heart’s delight with children and families. We can thank Binney and Smith in 1903 for providing us with the delightful eight-pack of red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, brown and black colors. With March winds blowing in the April showers, we have so much to look forward to in spring colors.
On the evening of March 23, as I was reflecting on these beautiful, God-made colors, I was encouraged by “Light of the Night” at the fountain below the Bethany House. Compassus Hospice sponsored this beautiful event under the direction of Nicole Barkley, bereavement counselor.
As dusk drew near, I gazed up at the evening sky colored by God’s hand. Then, I looked at all the individuals and families represented by a wide age range of children and adults — all of us coming together in one heart to show respect, love and honor to our loved ones who have recently passed. Whether the loss is sudden or long-term, we cannot depend on the strength of human nature alone to see us through. We must depend on God, our Heavenly Father, who made us and gave us life. He provides peace, direction and encouragement in His word, the Bible.
Readers, my intention with these words is to encourage those who have experienced the loss of a loved one, no matter how recent. I would like to review and equip friends to understand “Weeping, Worship and Witness” after such a loss. After walking this path myself, it is my heart’s desire that this column will help people.
Mourning is different for each person. In Psalm 6:6-7, the shepherd David describes grief by saying, “I am worn out from sobbing. All night, I flood my bed with weeping, drenching it with my tears.”
In the grief tunnel, you may feel like you are losing your mind, but what you are experiencing is a normal part of grieving. I know that personally, I was hit by waves of grief at times unexpected. It was similar to the waves of the ocean — knocking me down as I looked up to find the sunshine.
God is there with you in your deep, unimaginable hurt; keep trusting and don’t quit. Don’t apologize for tears. From my experiences teaching young children who have experienced the loss of a parent, sibling or other family member, I know that tears are shed frequently. It is so normal for us to cry because we love those whom we have lost. I share with children — as well as friends who have lost someone — that tears are a gift from God to express the depth of our loss, and they lead to healing and restoration.
Challenges of grief may be manifested in depression, anxiety, fatigue, anger or feeling overwhelmed. These physical symptoms are normal. It is good for a person to check in with their doctor during a time of grieving because of how it may affect you physically.
We cannot blame God for our loss. We must trust God to carry us each and every moment of each and every day. As we read Job Chapter 1 in the Bible, we see that Job was a blessed and righteous man of God, but he lost his wealth, children and physical health all within one day. How can we worship God in the face of tragedy? We learn from Job’s example that he maintained confidence in the greatness of God, as well as the goodness of God. As he worshipped God in Chapter 2, he tore his robe, shaved his head and tears flowed and stained his face, which are symbols of grief.
As we strive to get through the loss of a loved one, we must cling to the God who created us. As we do so, walking and talking with Him each and every day, we learn for ourselves of His greatness and goodness. God created us to know Him, love Him and have fellowship with Him. Our God is known as “Jehovah Rapha,” which means He is the Lord who restores and heals. God offers us friendship through His son, Jesus Christ.
In 1 Corinthians 2:9, we read, “But as it is written: Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man, the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.” This is so true, as God himself guides you through the journey of grief.
When we have lost someone we love, we can count on God’s loving and everlasting arms to always be underneath us as we navigate this pain. I can witness to that as daily as I have often told God, “I need your help.” His love is truly a comfort blanket which has given me life and sustained me with security. God is always faithful, and He will guide you each and every day.
When you come to know God’s love as He carries you through difficult times, you grow in your desire for others to be comforted in their difficult times. You can offer your witness by spending time with people who are walking the path of grief. This can be done, for example, through volunteer opportunities with local agencies or churches.
Camp Good Grief for youth and children who have experienced such loss will take place on Saturday, April 22, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Grace Methodist Church in Auburn. If you have a child who has experienced loss, you can reach out to Barkley at Nicole.Barkley@compassus.com or Compassus Volunteer Coordinator Morgan Riley at Morgan.Riley@compassus.com or 334-826-1899. We are also in need of volunteers to help children on that day. If you can serve, please contact these two ladies.