“But even if He doesn’t, I will still put all my hope in who He says He is and who He has already been.” Those were the words he said from the stage, and I was sitting front row.
They told me that this blog would go live on December twenty-third. Two days before Christmas. And they asked me to write about grief, which makes sense because I should have been five months pregnant on December twenty-third.
That’s how I keep track of things lately: how things should be.
Metriam-Webster defines grief as “an unfortunate outcome,” a “deep and poignant distress.”
It isn’t passive. It doesn’t just “happen” to us like the rest of life seems to.
We have no memories of our first happy moment in the same way that we have no memories of when we learned to talk. We don’t remember the first time we got angry just like we don’t remember what it was like to learn how to take our first steps.
But we remember grief. We can stand up tall and confident in a busy, loud room and say, “There—that’s when it happened. That’s when I felt it. That’s when things changed.”
Grief has no timeline. It is active, something we carry with us from the first moment it hits us. It is not something to “get over,” and it isn’t something we can just push out of our minds like a bad thought.
Grief shows no partiality. It is the one experience that connects our lives to one another, regardless of age, pay check, relationship status, popularity, history; it goes beyond borders and blows past barriers.
Grief tends to take the spotlight as common ground.
The first time I experienced grief, I was twelve years old, and it has been with me ever since.
Because grief is more than taking a hit to the ego or living in the very up-close-and-personal reality of loss: grief is the should have been.
It’s not just the dream or the person that you lose — it is the whole life. The one you made up inside your head. It’s losing every plan of what could have been. It would be easier if we just had to let go of what we were looking forward to, right? Not so much when being in Disney World reminds you that you shouldn’t actually be able to ride the rides because you should be standing with the other moms-to-be; not so much when decorating the tree reminds you of how much you were looking forward to being big and cozy and unwrapping nursery gifts; no, not so much when the only thing you had planned for the New Year was filling a spare room with the sweetest, littlest laughs.
Grief stays. It builds a home. It is familiar and ever-present, even when we seem to have found relief for a moment. And we so easily peg it as the enemy.
The last thing we want is to remember. The last thing we want is to sit in it. Grief makes us desperate and antsy, and it changes us for better or for worse, but it does always change us. And we hate change.
Goodness, don’t we fight it. We kick and scream, and we go through the stages, when maybe we should just slow down and get to know grief better. It is the truest and oldest friend we have ever had. It wants to move us and reshape us, and it inevitably will— when we fight it so fiercely, we end up looking like something we hate, trying to dodge all it’s punches.
What if we left a space for it at our holiday dinner table? What if there was room for it in our conversations? What if we invited it into our relationships and got comfortable with its presence?
What would happen in our families? How much more would our friendships flourish? How less afraid we would become of the giant mountain that is grief if we welcomed it instead of wishing it never happened?
Grief. We have arrived at the “even if He doesn’t,” part.
We get to choose, now. We have to choose, now. Will we make space for grief, stealing the shame from it and robbing it of its power?
Yes, there might be an empty seat on Christmas Eve this year. We might not feel like there is anything to look forward to in a stroke of a minute and clattering glasses as everyone toasts to a new trip around the sun.
But this is not where we end. This is not where we get left. Because on the other side of “even if He doesn’t,” is, “He has, and He will again.”
I don’t know who convinced us that we only grow when we are built up or when we “gain” something. Probably the enemy out of some fear that we would realize: we can still become everything we were supposed to be through loss. We can still end up a masterpiece even if the Potter chooses to take some things away. Less can still be beautiful. Small can still stand. The unexpected is still an overflowing portion that can be poured out to water someone else’s garden, and grief can be the white knuckles beating against the clay that’s preparing us to be able to carry it all.
Jenna is a 23 year old storyteller, wife, taco connoisseur, apologist, and hair-dye enthusiast. She asks a lot of questions and quotes a lot of Kanye. Right now she’s learning about becoming fluent in God’s language of hope. You’ll enjoy her abstract writing that’s filled with hope and a truly poetic bend. To learn more about Jenna, follow her on IG.