Grief, My Own Prison

Original oil painting by Steven Snow

Have you ever lost a loved one? Watched their health fail. Saw their lifeless body. That pain can be so deep, but for me, the worst part was knowing I had to keep living without them. It has been unbearable at times. I’ve looked to fill the gaping hole in so many ways with so many things. Grief is hard and messy. I’ve heard so many say that losing a child is the worst feeling. I know it was definitely far from easy for my family, but God showed me something in my prayer time tonight that I want to share with you in hopes that you can find a restored comfort within your grieving.

The pain we feel on earth pales in comparison to the joy our loved ones are experiencing in Heaven. Think of the darkest day you’ve ever had in your grief journey. Maybe you were hopeless and angry. Maybe you were stuck at the bottom of a deep, dark pit and struggling to see any light. Take that exact same amount of pain and flip it into joy. Now take that joy and multiply it by 100. That’s what your loved one is feeling right now! There is no pain or heartache in Heaven. There is no sickness. There are no ailments. When we walk into Heaven we are whole. All the broken pieces are completely healed – no scars, no physical or emotional restrictions. Simply immaculate healing. So that’s great for our loved one, right? But what about us? We’re left here on earth questioning why it had to be our mom, why it had to be our dad, why it had to be our daughter, why it had to be our grandson.

I have to be honest, I’ve struggled with grief for a long time. I have no memory of this early time in my life, but my baby cousin passed away when she was just a few months old. Various other, more distant family members passed during my adolescence. Family who I remember loving dearly but never seeing again. My young traumatized mind didn’t comprehend. When I was a freshman in college my great aunt, who I always had a special connection with, passed away after an aggressive form of breast cancer spread to her lungs. My great aunt’s passing trained me to prepare for the inevitable passing of those dearest to my heart. I began grieving the loss of my mom (maternal grandmother) long before she actually left this world. Nonetheless, it was the hardest thing I had faced in my 24 years of life. Nearly 7 years after my Auntie passed, and just 8 months after my daughter was born, I watched the woman who took me in and raised me as her own take her last breath here on earth. Her death came after years of a long, hard battle with an aggressive lung disease. Nearly 4 years later, I was blindsided with the loss of my stepdaughter and unborn grandson. It was during that time that I grieved and walked with my husband through the darkest valley I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t have known it when I was younger but God was preparing and equipping me for something far bigger than my imagination could have carried me.

Grief is felt with the ending or dissolution of many different things, life being the main focus for most people. Although no grief is easy, I think the loss of life has been easier for me than the loss of the relationships and moments I will never again experience. I grieved the loss of both my parents in what my young mind assumed was abandonment. I longed for acceptance and love from them, and although I’ve received it in my adult life, I felt so very alone and left out as a child. After my grandma passed, I grieved no longer being able to have deep conversations with her while we laid in bed and she rubbed my pregnant belly. I grieved not being able to see her face light up when she looked at my daughter and the delight she would feel seeing her great granddaughter’s first steps. I grieved the loss of my first marriage and what scripture told me it should have been like. I also struggled with guilt for ending the marriage even though Jesus clearly stated in scripture that my reason for divorce was justified and allowable in His eyes. I grieved not being able to see my stepdaughter become a mother and the image I had of holding my first grandson. I grieved the loss of not getting to see my husband walk his oldest daughter down the aisle at her wedding. I was so lost in the pain of my grief that I didn’t see how I was lashing out at others and becoming an extremely unapproachable person. I unintentionally pushed everyone around me further and further away. Grief leaves us blind to the things we subconsciouslly use as coping mechanisms, and until our eyes are supernaturally opened, we won’t see the faults we have developed as a direct result of the pain. It seems my life has always been lined with grief and unhealthy ways of coping. It wasn’t until about a year ago that I learned how to fully heal from these losses.

I was kneeling on top of my bed with my face buried in the covers (for my yogi peeps, think extended child’s pose). Sometimes I refer to this as “being on my face in prayer.” I was praying out loud and asking God to take the pain and darkness away from me, my husband and our family. A prayer I can’t even tell you how many times I had prayed before this night. This time was different though. Through an experience earlier that week where I stepped outside of my comfort zone, I learned to position my palms face up during prayer. (When we open our palms to the Heavens, it serves as a signal to God that we are ready to receive what He’s offering.) I flipped my palms up and immediately fell into a pure white surrounding. I heard the angels singing and saw God’s hand reaching down out of the clouds. Without hesitation, I reached into my chest and lifted my heart out of my body and placed it in His hand. The singing grew louder and louder as my heart and His hand disappeared into the clouds. The sense of peace and pureness I’ve felt since that night is like night and day difference. He healed me of all the grief! I’m completely free of that bondage!! I still get emotional when I talk about certain things, but the deep pit of pain I was in has been filled to the brim with the overwhelming abundance of love and compassion that only He can give. He didn’t just stitch together my wounds, He gave me a taste of Heaven with this immaculate healing and deliverance from grief!

I’m a very emotional person and tend to relate with others through compassion and empathy, with special connections through struggles I have personally been through. I know God has turned my struggles into a special aspect of my ministry, and I’m so grateful He has given me the ability to transparently share them with others. If you’re struggling with grief, please reach out! God did not intend for you to carry this burden alone. We have to support and comfort each other. I’m here, and I’m willing to pick you up and carry you to the feet of Jesus so you can be healed.

– Finding God’s Blessing and Working to Expand His Kingdom, ❤️ Renee

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