In the Olive Press with Jesus {part seven: Doing Grief}

In the Olive Press with Jesus {part seven: Doing Grief}

It’s been two months since she died… their mom, my friend (you can read about it here). This past week, my husband and I made the six-hour round trip to their home to share with them in their sorrow. To do grief. To remember her and to allow that remembrance to touch us deeply where it hurts.

Doing grief. It wasn’t easy; grief never is. I don’t suppose I’ve ever really witnessed this kind of sorrow… in many ways unfamiliar territory for me. Funeral grief—the kind of grief that packs in and around the initial parting of a loved one—has been my common experience. Grief that comes two months later? Well, that kind of grief is easier to pack away for those of us who sit on the outside of its unwrapping. We aren’t privy to this kind of gut-wrenching grief unless we are the direct recipients of its painful prod. But just because we don’t feel the sorrow, see the sorrow, hold the sorrow as profoundly as those who’ve lost someone close, doesn’t mean that sorrow no longer exists.

They feel it. They see it. They hold it. They grieve deeply behind hidden doors, behind expectations, behind forced smiles, trying desperately to fit into a world that’s moving on, despite the fact that grief isn’t in any hurry to leave. And that, friends, is an added burden to a grieving soul. Grief cannot live outside the boundaries of human existence. Grief cannot separate itself from common conversation and daily deliberations. When grief moves into a heart, grief stays. Certainly, over time, grief changes, but I’m not convinced it ever really leaves. What I am convinced of is the need to allow grief room enough, time enough, and respect enough to breathe—to work itself into and out of our hearts as it comes.

We must acknowledge it, whether a deeply felt, personal grief or the deep grief of a friend. We mustn’t clutter it, stuff it, or bury it. We simply and profoundly need to let it breathe and then to do the seemingly impossible—breathe alongside it. Not underestimate or overestimate what it is, but to let what “is”… just be.

This is our grieving season, friends … a lengthy round trip to Calvary and back where we come alongside God’s grief to feel it, see it, and hold it. Just for awhile. Just long enough for it to breathe strong remembrance into our souls. We weren’t there at the funeral some 2000 years ago; we’ve only heard stories about it. But here we are today, walking into that story, standing heart-to-heart with the One who wrote that story, and receiving its painful truth as our portion. His grief belongs to us; it is now part of our stories forever forward.

There’s no room for cluttering, stuffing, and burying the truth of Christ’s cross… not for those of us who call ourselves by his name. Easter pilgrims are those who willingly carry the suffering cross for self and for others, knowing it will hurt… greater still, knowing it will consecrate our hearts for a deeper identification with Jesus. The cross is what he came to do; in doing so, he and the world around him, “did grief” … continues to do grief. Why should we do any less?

Do better for Jesus this week; do better for those you love. Come alongside them to breathe with them. In doing so, you give them Easter’s breath … Easter’s best. As always…

Peace for the Journey,
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15 Responses to In the Olive Press with Jesus {part seven: Doing Grief}

  1. "They grieve deeply behind hidden doors, behind expectations, behind forced smiles, trying desperately to fit into a world that’s moving on, despite the fact that grief isn’t in any hurry to leave."

    …and this is why you'll always be one of my favorite writers.

    Love you friend,


  2. I've never lost a spouse….but I have lost a parent, most recently my mother (5/27/10) yet the grief remains….not so strongly as it was the first year and now, more accepting of it. You never quite get over losing a loved one. My heart goes out to this family…still so very fresh for them.

  3. This is so true…most of us do funeral grief much better and less painfully than we do the grief that remains after the body is buried and the flowers have wilted. What a touching reminder to walk out the pain with our loved ones and not turn our heads away from their grief.

    Those are two of the most adorable boys I have ever seen. I just want to pick them up and squeeze them. God bless them and their sweet Daddy.

  4. Praying for those sweet boys and their daddy as they walk this path of grief. I have watched those close to me walk that road, and your soo right, it is very different indeed from the funeral etc. No other way through. You just have to "let it be" as you said.

  5. "When grief moves into a heart, grief stays." I think you might be right, Elaine. I want to remember that as I come alongside friends (and eventually face my own grief)– to allow room, time and respect for it to work itself in, around and through the heart…

    I'm sure your presence brought support and a measure of comfor to this grieving father and his precious sons in THEIR sorrow.

  6. I can definitely relate to this post. And the timing of your sharing it is perfect for me. Today I remember my dear Ernie on our 34th wedding anniversary. Thank you for your beautiful words. I know that God's comfort, peace, and strength are real, even if they can't be seen.

    Much love

  7. Grief is difficult. The need for us to come around and lift up the loved ones left behind is important. But, I believe it is even more important to be there afterwards. After everyone is gone and they are left alone. That's when they need people to, again, gather around and hold them up with love.

  8. Your words deeply touched my heart, as always. Praying for these precious boys, and their dad.

  9. wifeforthejourney:

    There is no way around the pain and loss of death. I'm sure most all your readers can echo our experience in shared loss with family and friends whose lives ended much sooner than what seems right. These are the moments where our faith is tested most, and though answers are often in short supply, it was a blessing to at least be able to say to our grieving friends that they are not alone in their saddness.

    Patrick and Juliana had established a household of faith before Juliana's death, and even in Juliana's absence from among us, faith, hope and love remain in their home. Thanks to all in your continued prayers for this precious family.


  10. You have spoken well here on grieving. It is gut wrenching. It is constant. It is hard. Yet, 27 months after that last earthly kiss on the cheek before they lowered my boy into the ground, I can also say, there is grace.
    Thank you for writing this.

  11. Grief is always hard! Mine always has been anyway! And it's such a blessing to have someone come along side you and share grief as best they can. God bless you for being such a person Elaine!

  12. I can't imagine the feelings of loss this precious family must feel. Yet, through God's grace, they are making it…one day at a time.

    I love what Billy said about Patrick and Juliana establishing "a household of faith" before her death. That strong spiritual foundation continues to build the faith of Patrick and his boys…even in the midst of their grief.

    Praying for them, and praying for you and Billy.

    Love you…

  13. Thanks for posting your thoughts and feelings on this. I am facing the 2 month anniversary of my grandfather's death this Friday which also would have been his 87th birthday. Thinking of my grandma and wishing I could be with her, but she is 3,000 miles away. Wondering if some flowers might be uplifting.

    Love to you, my friend.

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