No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear…
Perhaps, more strictly, like suspense. Or like waiting; just hanging about waiting for something to happen. It gives life a permanently provisional feeling. —C.S. Lewis
As I’m grieving the loss of what was and the loss of what it seemed would be, these words from C.S. Lewis describe my experience with grief more accurately than anything else I’ve encountered. The weeks after I called off my wedding were characterized by fear –I was disoriented, anxious, and mostly, afraid. Afraid of numbness and of feeling, of newness and of sameness, of nothing and everything, of the past and the future and of being right here. I found that my feelings [and ensuing ugly cries] welled up most often in moments of transition –driving home from meeting up with a friend, packing up after being at my parents’ for the weekend, even in the transition from waking up to making coffee. During those weeks, I experienced peace, overwhelming kindness and an unmistakable assurance of God’s faithfulness + provision. Moments of hope interrupted by moments of fear.
The thing about grief is that it comes in waves –one minute you’re laughing over iced Americanos, and the next, you can’t breathe. But the thing about God that the wind and waves obey Him, that it’s He who tells the ocean how far it can go. He has parted seas and stilled stormy waters, and every day the motion of the tides reminds us that He’s still in control. He allows our grief, but He never abandons us in it. Its waves won’t overtake us, no matter how overwhelming they seem.
I’ve been to the ocean three different times in this grief-season. The water is shockingly cold and wonderfully vast and there’s nothing quite like it for soul healing. I’m never more aware of my smallness, and in turn, of God’s muchness. In the earliest days –when I still had to remind myself to sleep, shower, and eat foods other than sweet potato chips, I had a dear friend who said, “We’re running away, and we’re going to the ocean.” It seemed like the best and only thing to do. Because standing in front of the ocean, you remember. You remember that God is much less safe and small and contained than you thought, that the roaring and crashing and swelling waves have always known His voice, that we won’t be swallowed up because of Jesus, who swallowed up death forever.