Good Grief

My husband died last Thursday.  Today a friend acquainted with unhealthy ways of NOT dealing with one’s grief, visited me and admonished me not to stuff my emotions, to take the time to grieve well, to not rush back into the busy-ness of my previous routine too quickly…..

Her words reminded me of a journal entry from last summer after eight months of trauma, shock, and grieving as we had worked to recover from Hurricane Michael……. In these last few days many have reached out to me, shocked by Bill’s death.  In a sense, since October of 2018 I have been grieving. We were just coming out of that terrible, long  post-hurricane season and beginning to adapt to the many changes thrust upon us when COVID-19’s disruptions began. I am pretty practiced at grieving losses, though it is not something in which one would wish to become proficient. But I have learned that Jesus is with me.  He hears. He sees.  He knows.  He cares.   Jesus understands the heart-cries void of words that only pour forth as tears.


6/11/19   Tears As Prayer       CBB

On Blue Lake Emmaus Walk 137, when I was lay director, Harold Gilland sang Untitled Hymn in the Chapel at Blue Lake and I came unhinged.   I asked him for a copy of it.  Later, Julie Eadie sang it at the funeral of Sharon Hodges, a church friend.  I told Julie I want her to sing it at my funeral someday……..

It’s been a particularly hard season since Hurricane Michael on 10/10/18.  Last Saturday I sat in a friend’s study having coffee and crying.  She comforted me and said she’d never seen me cry in the 24 years we’ve known one another.  I told her that I wanted Bill to hold me and let me cry.  But he’s been hyper-vigilant over me, watching me closely for evidence that I am in emotional distress or needing to see a counselor, that I am “not myself”.   I feel like I cannot be anything other than strong and rational.  But inside I am ready to scream.  I am on the verge of tears constantly.  I told my friend yesterday that if I slow down for a second the grief catches up with me and I am engulfed by it. I dare not rest for a minute.

During the night I awoke and cried out to God.  “Help me.”  I longed to simply be enveloped in strong arms and cry.  I had told my friend, Dr. Mike Carns, too, earlier in the week that I wanted to come to see him and his wife Ann, sit in their living room and just cry.  He said for me to come.  But at 2:30 am last night I awoke and felt the Lord say, “I will hold you in my arms.  You can cry to me.  That is a valid prayer.”  So I got up quietly, thinking I’d wrap myself in a blanket, slip out to the bench in the front yard and just cry.”  But as I opened the bedroom door, there was Bill walking across the dining room to the kitchen, so I went to the hall bathroom instead, sat down there with the blanket over my head and sobbed quietly for about 10 minutes, in a mournful, lamenting wordless prayer to Jesus, grieving so many losses.  Bill did not hear me or see me or inquire what I was doing.  When I came out he was sitting in his chair looking at his phone.  I sat down.  After a few minutes we started talking.  I told him what I felt, what I’d been doing, what I needed.  I told him how I needed him and that I felt tremendous grief as we continued recovering from the hurricane.  I told him I had not told him how I felt because of how vigilant he had been over my emotions.  I didn’t want to worry him but also didn’t feel I could just be me.  We wound up sitting on the sofa with his arms around me, holding me and me in tears again.

This song sooooo encompasses how I had been feeling for days…… weak, wounded, struggling with a burden that Jesus knows I’d been struggling with and I couldn’t carry alone.  My tears were the only way I could communicate it to Jesus, my words were only coming out angry……and complaining.  It felt so lonely. The sky had been dark and rainy when it wasn’t dry and parched and like a desert wilderness.   It was then that Jesus himself said, “It’s okay.  I’ll put my arms around you and you can just pray tears.  I understand tears. Cry.”


Untitled Hymn by Chris Rice

Weak and wounded sinner,
Lost and left to die,
O, raise your head for Love is passing by,

Come to Jesus,
Come to Jesus,
Come to Jesus and live,

Now your burden’s lifted,
And carried far away,
And precious blood has washed away the stain… so

Sing to Jesus,
Sing to Jesus,
Sing to Jesus and live,

And like a newborn baby,
Don’t be afraid to crawl,
And remember when you walk sometimes we fall… so

Fall on Jesus,
Fall on Jesus,
Fall on Jesus and live,

Sometimes the way is lonely,
And steep and filled with pain,
So if your sky is dark and pours the rain… then

Cry to Jesus,
Cry to Jesus,
Cry to Jesus and live,

O, and when the love spills over,
And music fills the night,
And when you can’t contain your joy inside… then

Dance for Jesus,
Dance for Jesus,
Dance for Jesus and live,

And with your final heartbeat,
Kiss the world goodbye,
Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory’s side… and

Fly to Jesus,
Fly to Jesus,
Fly to Jesus and live,

Fly to Jesus,
Fly to Jesus,
Fly to Jesus and live.