The Grace to Grieve

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We all grieve. We all grieve but we do not necessarily do it well. We do not even give ourselves the freedom to grieve, feel sadness, loss, so how can we begin to grieve well if we are not even honest about it? Why do we not give ourselves permission to grieve? Many of us do not give ourselves the grace to grieve.

One way we can give ourselves the grace to grieve is by allowing it to be real. We spend a great amount of time and energy pretending grief is not real and that we are okay. Giving ourselves (and others) the grace to grieve means that we do not pretend grief is not there. We allow the rawness and reality of grief to come forth.

Not only is grief real, we think we know it. We think that grief looks a certain way, follows a certain path and should only last so long. Just the other day I was sad (again) and frustrated with myself because I had not gotten over a loss. I kept thinking to myself, “Why am I still sad? Shouldn’t I be over this?” I was frustrated that I had not “gotten over” something yet. I wanted to be DONE with grief but reality was that grief was not done.

This is why the story of Martha and Mary at the death of Lazarus so encourages me. These sisters are real. I love these sisters. They have their own personality, their own grieving, each responding differently to the death of their brother and each came face to face with Jesus. Yet when they approach Jesus they both say the same thing: “If you had been here, our brother would not have died.” Maybe what they mean by this statement is, “Jesus, you could have prevented this death, you weren’t here and we even called for you. Our brother would be alive Jesus, but he isn’t because you didn’t come when we called. If you …” They got real.

The sisters are calling Jesus out, stating reality, being honest. With this raw accusation we believe Jesus would set them in their place, show them a sovereign plan or respond to them like God did with Job (the great reminder of who is God and who is not). Thinking we already know God’s response to our honesty with Him and our grief we clean up our honesty, put disclaimers on it and make it look “pretty”. We are afraid to be honest with God. But Jesus doesn’t strike them down for their honesty, instead He meets each sister exactly where they are.

Jesus responds to Martha in her grieving thoughts, her questions, her desire to grow in understanding and faith. He dialogues with her. Martha grows in faith as a result of coming face to face with Jesus and her grief. Mary, falls at His feet where we often find her, Jesus responds to Mary in her tears. He meets her in her tears, her mourning, grief and hopelessness. Jesus meets Mary with tears, is silent and ministers to her.

If Jesus gave these sisters the grace to grieve would He not give it to us? If Jesus gave these sisters the grace to grieve can we not offer this grace to others?  Can we not stop long enough to notice something is off within us and we need to come to Jesus and meet Him face to face? Can we not stop long enough to notice how someone is grieving and meet them in it? Why can we not give ourselves the grace and the freedom to grieve? Why do we think we cannot be real with God? How were these sisters able to be so bold and real with God? (And they didn’t get chastised for it!)

Friends, do you need to give yourself the grace to grieve? Do you need to offer this grace and freedom to another? Sit with Martha, Mary and Jesus in John 11. Receive the grace of Jesus and offer this grace to others.

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