Is there a good and bad way to process grief and trauma as a Christian?
A few weeks ago, a good friend of mine lost her only child, a beautiful 14 year old girl, (whom we shall call Estelle) under tragic circumstances.
When I first received the news, the first question that raced across my mind was “why?!”
It was a question that would stay in my mind and rub my heart raw for days to come.
I’ve heard it said that when many people mourn someone else passing away; they are almost always processing their own grief. They’ve traveled back in time to a place when they lost a loved one.
On the day day of Estelle’s burial, I was mourning for the loss of a precious young life, the shattering of a mother’s heart.
And yes, the gush down my face was because I know personal grief too; I lost my father four years ago and a close friend some months back.
I was mourning because I understood, to a tiny degree the pain in Estelle’s mother, uncle, grandmother and school mates.
I found myself asking, “why dream, why plan, why set goals?”
Life is short, fragile, unpredictable; it can be gone in a flash. I thought about Estelle’s’ mother, the dreams she had for her little girl, now all gone.
My soul raged.
I knew I could never, in a million years, understand a mother’s grief.
However it wasn’t long before I realized I was trying to over-think on her behalf.
I was worrying instead of praying for her. Nursing a bitter, questioning, cynical spirit instead of grieving as one with hope.
I had hit the breaks on life and instead of living the best I knew to, I was embarking on a journey of blind pain, shutting out hope and opportunities for inner enlargement.
Grief and trauma as a Christian
When I became a Christian, I wasn’t given the a promise that things would be easy. Yet somehow it remains my default expectation.
I rejoice when life feels good and bawl eyes out when it feels sad.
However, there’s this higher nature I am supposed to grow into. There’s a level where I learn to roll with the punches, so to speak. The level where I don’t throw tantrums because life did not serve up the expected.
The level where I don’t give up personal goals and dreams because I got hit between the eyes by personal loss or life’s tragedies.
The level where I forgive and let go, even when I do not understand.
In an uncertain world, full of pain and unexpected loss, I have found out that I am not strong enough.
In fact, I never was.
I was was not built to be self-sufficient. Self-sufficient means eternally resourceful, self-replenishing, not needing outside help or strength.
Human beings who are “self-sufficient” tend to stink to high heavens. People who think they don’t need others emit a repulsive pong. Pride stinks. To God and to man.
I mourn Estelle. I cry with her mother.
But I have began to accept strength and hope from outside – from friends, husband.
Tough times do not last but tough people do. Easier said than done of course. But very true. A day at a time.
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Photo by Samuel Martins on Unsplash