Grief and Growth — Grateful, yet Grieving

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This past winter California has experienced an abundance of rain that has produced what experts call a “super bloom”; a blanket of wildflowers that grow along the hills and in the deserts that take your breath away. From February to April, people travel and pull off the side of the highway to take pictures of the magnificent colors of floral beauty. The gray skies and wet days of winter had beauty waiting in its back pocket and brought a bounty of color.

Clarissa Moll, author of “Discovering Grace in Grief”, says, “New life can begin to grow when grief is allowed to take its course.” Growth occurs during our grief that we often can’t see. Where we started immediately following the loss of our loved one is not where we have stayed. Time passes and we are forced into a different life than we had. Our before is the opposite of our after. We are different. There’s been a reorientation after a major disorientation.

In the process of growth, we are faced with choices. Henri Nouwen, author, pastor, and theologian said, “Every time there are losses, there are choices to be made. You choose to live your losses as passages to anger, blame, hatred, depression and resentment, or you choose to let these losses be passages to something new, something wider, and deeper.”

In those passages to something new, wider, and deeper is where the growth happens.

Since my husband died, I’ve discovered a different life. My exterior life has changed with new friendships with other women who have experienced the loss of their spouse. My interior life has changed. There’s more room for empathy and less room for what use to annoy me. Some of my growth has opened a part of me that had lied dormant until my husband died; a space where my tears watered the growth of unwritten words that are now being written. 

To be sure, life is filled with challenges and changes. Out of the changes we are given the opportunity to grow and see what will result. As Isaiah 61:3 says, there can be “beauty instead of ashes”.

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