When I was in 7th grade, I had an aunt pass away. I wasn’t very close to this specific aunt, but circumstances around her death were tragic and I had no idea how to process it. When I was in 8th grade, I had a classmate pass away. He hit a patch of ice on the way to school and slid into an oncoming car. That was the first time I realized death was real, and my classmate had to face God that day. In 9th grade, I had another aunt pass away. Now this aunt, I was incredibly close to. In fact, in many ways, she was a second mom to me. I had grown up with her always next door; she taught me how to do my hair, paint my nails, accessorize with jewelry, all the girly things that I thoroughly enjoyed. When she was gone, I had a hole in my life, a hole that I didn’t really know how to deal with. At the time, I didn’t let myself deal with it because I didn’t want to take attention away from my family members who I felt needed comfort more than I did. I stuffed my pain down until I’d be able to deal with it at a better time. Unfortunately, a better time never came along. I kept my pain stuffed down for months, until one day I realized it wasn’t there anymore. Actually, nothing was there. I was empty inside. I thought I had stuffed my pain, but I didn’t realize I’d stuffed every other emotion down with it. Ever since that moment, I’ve struggled to cry.
Some of you out there know what I’m talking about. Your loss might look different than mine did, but you’ve chosen to deal with it in a similar way. Some of you struggle with feeling anything at all, the things that used to amuse you aren’t fun anymore. The loss you know you should cry about doesn’t seem to bother you. If emotions are the color of life, yours looks pretty gray. And if this is the case for you, I hope my story will be able to help.
I don’t talk about my grieving moments very often. I don’t allow myself to ever sit and actually process my loss. I most certainly do not EVER ask anyone to just listen to me babble about what I’m missing. I hate the awkwardness that comes with that, and I hate feeling like a nuisance or a burden. So, I hold it in. I distract myself with Instagram reels or binge watching a TV show. I get my head so full of time-consuming, useless stuff, that I’m not able to think about what I’m feeling. Then, I’m able to act like the situation doesn’t bother me and I move on to other things. The funny thing is, when I finally get around to processing the loss, all the feelings I was distracting myself from come to the surface and take me by surprise. Then my reactions are much more intense, and I usually end up lashing out at the people closest to me.
So many times, I wish I would let myself just sit. Throw my phone in another room, lock the door and just sit. No distractions. Clear my head or the thousands of things on my to-do list, and filter in only the thoughts of grief. Would I feel then? Would I finally be able to cry?
But then the inevitable thought creeps in: if you trusted God, you wouldn’t need to grieve. He knows what’s best, and crying tells Him that you want what He’s taken away. Ugh, even just typing those words fills me with shame. Why would I allow myself to mourn when I know God’s in control?
I know I’m not alone in those thoughts. And to those of you who relate, we have to remember that Jesus wept. When His friend Lazarus dies, and Mary and Martha are mourning, John 11:35 says, “Jesus wept.” He didn’t comfort Mary and Martha with the words that everything would be OK because Lazarus was going to live again, He didn’t scoff at their “lack of faith” or roll His eyes or distract them in any way or show off His healing power saying, “Watch this!” No, He wept. He sat with them in their pain. He wept. He knew God was in control, He trusted God knew what was best, and He even know his friend was coming back to life. Yet, He wept. Period.
That is powerful. That fights those lies, and obliterates them to kingdom come. I trust God. I know He knows what’s best. He’s in control. Yet, He’s blessed me with emotions. It's not about doubt or weakness. He’s given me a heart that experiences loss, and He doesn’t want me to squash that! He doesn’t want you to squash it either.
I’m going to challenge myself to sit. Just sit. I want to finally allow myself to grieve my aunt, and every other loss I’ve distracted myself from since. No phone or any other screen or any other distraction. I need to get back in the habit of meditating (blog on meditation to come soon) and let my mourning thoughts seep in. My grief doesn’t look like anyone else’s. Most girls I know cry, and I don’t. But that’s ok. My grief is just as real and just as valid. I need to give it credit, and allow it to stir in my heart.
I challenge you to do the same thing; I challenge you to sit in your grief. It doesn’t have to look a certain way, you might cry, you might not. You might scream instead, or sit in absolute silence. It doesn’t matter. I want you to sit. No distractions of any kind. Toss away thoughts of homework needing to get done or what outfit Kendall Jenner wore the other day, just sit. Feel your heart, slowly but surely, begin to stir. Allow emotions to come, be what they may. And I challenge you to write them down. Then call up a trusted friend or a mentor, and share your burden with them (YIKES, that’s terrifying!). You might think this sounds stupid or tedious or kiddish, and I agree. To some degree, it does. So look at it like a challenge. How long can you sit? How many words can you journal? It might take some practice, but man, if you can figure this grief thing out now, you will be one step ahead of me!