No, I am not having a pity party, and no, you are not invited to join. I am thankful for grief because of the memories it brings. Thanksgiving is a hard season for me although I will readily admit it has always been my favorite holiday. But twenty years ago, my mom died the week of Thanksgiving, shadowing the holiday in sorrow and grief that seemed to overwhelm me at times. My mom and I had a difficult relationship and as I have aged, I have come to the conclusion that we had trouble relating to each other because we are so much like each other. I like order, organization and plans. So did mama. I like to be quiet and reflective and read. So did mama. I tend to explode when things happen unexpectedly. So did mama. And on and on it goes. Thus, each Thanksgiving season, I ponder why I never felt really loved by my mother. She used to tell me how ugly I was (I look a lot like she did), told me I had to go to college and pay for it myself so I had better study hard in high school, and told me that I would have to work my whole life because no man would ever want me. Yes, mama was cruel at times, but I think it was because she was judging herself. I have a tendency to do that, too, but I hope and pray that I am not harsh as she was. When I find myself about to speak harsh words, I remember how deeply mama’s words cut me and try to control myself and my speech better. The long and short of it is that I am thankful for grief because it also brings healing from wounds that have festered for too long. I had to come to a place of forgiveness for my mom before I could really grieve for her. Now, each Thanksgiving, I realize that it is another year without her and I miss her smile and know that she would have loved being a grandmother because that is a great joy in my life. I’m sorry that her life’s choices led her to miss out on this part of her journey.
God’s love is always compassionate. He understands loss and grief. It was not His plan for man to die at all. That came from poor choices in the Garden of Eden and poor choices ever since, too. We are now all sinners saved by grace and each of us has to die. Each of us will grieve at some time in our lives, and I sincerely believe that God grieves with us, holding us close and comforting us when the grief rolls over us like high tide during a full moon.
One of the strange things about grief is the everyday tasks that suddenly and without any warning turn into tears streaming down the cheek. I can be in the grocery story getting ingredients for one of my favorite dishes and recall that mama used to make the same dish and tears come to my eyes. I see a grandchild do particularly well in an activity and tears spring out because I think about all that mama has missed. It’s a strange thing to go from happiness to grief in a split second. But just as quickly, the Comforter comes and reminds me of His love and grace and mercy and that He is always with me. Others may leave and I will never see them again on this earth. Just as one phone call shattering my night ended my earthly relationship with my mother, so sudden and unexpected is death. I want to leave behind happy memories for my children and grandchildren. That has been my goal since that Thanksgiving twenty years ago. I want them to remember the good times and rejoice that I have a relationship with God that gives me eternal life and them to, if they make that choice. God doesn’t love me or you any less than anyone else. We are all the same and He truly desires that we find out the truth about grieving. It is a process, part of our journey on earth, that we all must go through.