Psychologists Henry Cloud & John Townsend say that a person's emotional health is directly related to their ability to grieve well. I couldn't agree more. But grieving sucks. Hard.
Over the past 2 years of immeasurable grief, I have discovered so much about myself, God, and what I want most from this life. Even in the midst of the rawest pain, I have been grateful. There have been many moments where I thought my heart might literally shatter, and I've experienced the closeness of God in ways I never had before. There have been many conversations with Brian that have brought such deep connection in our marriage. There have been emails, cards, flowers, and meals from friends in the hours I've needed the most. I have been changed at the core of my being because of my grief, and for that I am grateful.
My friend, Tic Long, just wrote an amazing post on his blog about grief and gratitude, and I knew I had to post it. Tic and I are grieving different things, but grief is grief.
"There was grief to be sure; in fact it was easily the most pain I had ever experienced in my life but gratitude just kept showing up and it changed us. It was powerful, it changed our perspective, it saved the day. It was like this unexpected and uninvited guest who would not allow grief to stand alone, not allow grief to be the only emotion in our life, not allow grief to drag us into despair. It did not replace or remove grief but would accompany it. It was a gift of the Spirit. And it stayed with us day after day after day. It seemed so strange to me that those two emotions could be so closely aligned. Even now when I think back on those days I am so aware of the presence of this odd couple, the unexpected companions who walked beside us through those dark days. The grief eventually went away but the gratitude never has and in fact it has grown stronger over time.
So here's the deal...The grief means it mattered. We don’t grieve things we don’t care about. Would I really want it any other way?...
The gratitude has allowed me to not be overwhelmed by the pain and disappointment. In fact, in a mysterious way it allows me to embrace my pain and work through it instead of trying to deny it. In a way, it gives grief its proper place now so it will leave later. So once again I have these two uninvited guests taking up residence in my life, guests for which I am thankful. In time, only one will remain and for that I’m grateful."
In most moments, only gratitude remains in my spirit. The grief is only an occasional visitor in my soul. I didn't know when the grief guest would leave and the grateful guest would remain, but alas that day has finally come.
I am so grateful for my infertility. I am grateful for how my broken body has healed my soul. I'm grateful for how it's changed my priorities, character, and perspective. I'm grateful for the depth of my marriage that infertility has caused. I'm grateful to receive the generosity of my friends in tangible, necessary ways. Of course, I'm ever grateful to adopt Baby Ethiopia! It's is an odd couple for sure.
Friends, may you allow your grief to wash over you, so you may be healed. May your grief stay for however long is necessary. May in your darkest moments, you sense the closeness of your Creator and be grateful. May you meet some unexpected friends along the way to nourish and comfort you. And someday soon, may only gratitude remain for how its made you more whole. Amen.