Joy Comes in the Mourning #3 Before Dawn

 


Joy Comes in the Mourning #3 Before Dawn

 

Will the sadness ever go away?  When will mourning grief end and the morning dawn? 

 Psalms 30:5 (NLT)        

Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.

 This night has lasted what; 18-24 months?  No one knows how long the night will last.  You’ve suffered through all the anniversaries, the holidays, the birthdays, the events, the occasions, and places without the one you love.  It has been difficult, the tears still come, but the pain no longer incapacitates you. 

 The purpose of this series is to help you cope with grief.  As I was preparing these teachings my thoughts kept returning to the death of a spouse, but these observations and principles can apply to any love lost.  If you are just joining, check out the first two messages which you can catch on our website hbcc.life, or on our YouTube channel HBCC Life.  On the website, you will find the teachings in 3 formats, video, audio, and written.  The written formats have a little more information in them, specifically scripture references.  All are resources you can use, and maybe direct someone else to in helping them through their darkest of nights.

 “The death of a beloved is an amputation.”(C. S. Lewis) A vital part of you is gone and you will always miss it, miss them.  It’s been a year maybe two you’re learning how to get along without them.  “We never truly get over a loss, but we move forward and evolve from it.” (Elizabeth Berrien)  You are becoming someone different than the person you were before your heartbreak happened.  

 You now are allowing those feels of sadness to wash over you instead of drowning you.  You feel them, but no longer fight with them.  You acknowledge them, give them a moment to express them, then you are getting on with your task at hand. You’re experiencing more good days than bad.  You’re thinking is much clearer.  You’re sleeping better, you can laugh at a joke.  You’re finding things you are grateful for. You’re emotionally stronger now.  You are treasuring the memories instead of enduring them.  The absence of your loved one is unwanted but it has become familiar.

 We are so involved with our survival some time we forget that others who were close are suffering too.  Everyone close to the one who died is grieving too.  They most likely are not mourning like you are.  Everyone is different in how they handle their pain.  When we hurt we tend to turn inward, like a hedgehog in danger, curl up in a little ball with lots of prickly spikes all around us.  It makes it hard for a parent, a sibling, a spouse, a child, to get close to you.  They’ve lost someone they love, they may be afraid of losing you too.  Give them space to safely and responsibly express their grief.  Give them the gift of presence, give them the gift of listening, give them the gift of time, the gift of you being with them. 

 Any crisis brings stressors to relationships.  Healthy relationships tend to get stronger.  Poor relationships tend to get worse.  The death of a loved one can bring a lot of issues to the surface.  These issues need to be dealt with, most likely with the help of someone else, someone not touched by the tragedy, you need their energy and clarity to help you deal with those relational dynamics that have gone haywire.  Some relationships will not be reconciled, but a majority can be if those involved are willing to work through the situation.  You may even have unfinished business with your loved one who has died.  You can find help dealing with those also.

 Night fell and it was devastating.  You’ve gotten stronger during the middle of your night.  The task before the dawn of your dark night is to let go.  “Letting go.”  Letting go sounds so scary, sounds like you might be dishonoring the person you’ve lost.  What might be helpful is to imagine a big ship, for me it was the USS Morton DD 948 that I was stationed on.  You might imagine a cruise ship which by the way is a whole lot bigger and a lot more fun.  That ship is moored to the dock, there are thick ropes or lines that run from the ship to the dock.  The ropes secure the ship to the dock. The dock doesn’t move.  For you to get underway, you have to release the mooring lines.  You have to let go of the dock.  Letting go is not forgetting the dock, it's necessary to get underway, to move on with life.

 Life will never be the old normal again.  There is a need inside of us to return to normal.  But “letting go” is about saying goodbye to that old way of life.  It is gone, with all its dreams and hopes.  You may be feeling stuck, that’s a part of saying goodbye to what was, to let go.  This is never easy, it most likely is the most difficult thing you will do.  We prefer to hold on to what we have known, we build our shrines, keep things as they always have been, there is a degree of comfort  But at this point in your journey keeping them secures you to the dock of what has transpired, it traps you in the past.  You don’t want to be stuck in the past.  The dawn will never come if you do. 

 Letting go doesn’t mean forgetting, that somehow you no longer care, that you are dishonoring the person.  Letting go is all about dealing with a new and unfamiliar reality, it facing the facts and dealing smartly with them.  Letting go is moving forward, beginning to create a new healthy future for yourself.  One friend told me that it was time to take the pictures down, that was part of my letting go.  Look for things you may be holding on to, maybe like living the part of a victim, maybe like finding a replacement.  Just a note here:  if you’re looking for a replacement, a return to what you had, you will do an injustice both to yourself and the one you choose, I think it’s called a rebound.  Not a good idea unless you’re playing basketball.  One of the tasks during the middle of your night is creating a new you, discovering the person you are now, that person won’t look for a replacement, that person will engage the new. You’re not erasing memories, you’re loosening the grip of what was so you can receive what is to come.

 You may want to write a goodbye letter. 

 “Dear….

          This is a strange letter, I never planned to write to you after your death.  But your leaving has left a painful hole in my life.  I don’t like the empty grieving feeling I have inside, I miss you, I miss it all—your voice, your presence, your laughter, your raising your eyebrows, your stubbornness.  You know what else I miss?  Your dreaming out loud, I miss our dreams and the future we won’t have here together.  I feel cheated. .. This was not the time for you to die.  Or it wasn’t the time I thought you should.

         I’ve cried buckets of tears over you.  I’ve cried for me and raged at you and God and me and everyone else you still have someone.  I’ve wanted you to come to me, and I wish I could come to you.  I don’t like being alone.  Oh, I know there are others around, but they aren’t you!

It’s been months.  I’ve stabilized now.  I’m learning to rest in the hope that someday, some way, we will see each other again.  I’m taking a big step now.  I am taking baby steps to go on with my life.  I feel strange saying this to you, but you went away, you were taken from me, but I have been holding on to you.  Now I’m letting go to live life again.  I have our history together, memories together, and a rich life because of you. Thank you.  I’m letting you go, but I will never leave you.  I will have to let you go many more times, I know that. I miss you. I love you.  You are never forgotten” (Terry Irish—H.N. Wright, Experiencing Grief, p.74).

 

Are you familiar with the origins of “Goodbye?”  The old English originally meant “go with God,” “God be with you” (H.N. Wright, Experiencing Grief, pp.74-75).  “Go with God” is a source of comfort.  As believers in the gospel, as partakers of the gift of God, we know that “goodbye doesn’t mean forever.”  When you first acknowledged your sin and separation from God, believing that Jesus made atonement that forgiveness of your sin and reconciliation with God possible, so that you committed yourself to a lifelong quest of knowing God, that when you asked to be saved, that there are no final goodbyes in Christ?  Are you a Christ-follower?  If not, today, right now layout your case before God and ask Him to guide you into life eternal.  “In Christ, goodbye is just for a season” (ibid).

             There’s coming a day when no heartaches shall come

No more clouds in the sky

No more tears to dim the eye

All is peace forevermore

On that happy golden shore

What a day, glorious day that will be.

                                                          (Jim Hill, What A Day That Will Be)

 

The dead in Christ shall rise and “then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air; and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

 But until that time “we all need to learn to say goodbye, acknowledge the pain that is there for us so we can move on.  When we learn to say goodbye we learn how to say to ourselves and to the one we love; “Go, God be with you, I entrust you to God.”  The God of strength, courage, comfort, hope, love is with you.  The God who promises to wipe away all tears will hold you close and will fill your emptiness.  Let go and be free to move on.  Do not keep yourself from another step in your journey”  (H.N. Wright, Experiencing Grief, p.75).

 Psalm 71:20-21

"You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again; from the depths of the earth you will bring me up again. You will increase my greatness and comfort me again."

 Even though Jesus was speaking to his disciples, I have found comfort in what He told them concerning my loved ones who have died.  I try to imagine it spoken in the voice of the beloved.

John 16:22

Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.

 Letting go is necessary to live your new identity.  You are not the person you were.  Haven‘t you felt fragmented, disconnected, lost?  Part of you is gone.  Who are you going to become now?  You have to discover your individuality, your uniqueness, answering the question “Who am I going to be now?”  Letting go allows you to take the energy that you have been using to mourn and invest it in yourself.  Rediscover your likes and dislikes. Find out what is important to you now.  Learn new ways of nurturing yourself.  Search for what puts a smile on your face.  Create new expectations for yourself.  Ignore that critical inner voice, it’s just a bully.  Become a friend to yourself.  How are you ever going to love God and love others if you don’t love yourself? We’ve talked about engagement, we’ve talked about experiencing new things, encountering new people, now is the time to kick that into high gear.  Learn to be OK with yourself, by yourself.  Do this to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). You honor the memory of your departed by living your life to the full. 

 Some things I found difficult in letting go of my familiar companion, the one who was always there for me and with me.  Meals alone, watching TV alone, going to church alone, going to bed alone, all difficult tasks.  Going out to eat by myself was weird the first couple of times; going to the movies the same thing, it was very hard, I didn’t want to do it.  I had to force myself to do it.  Letting go is not easy.  Through repetition, it became ok to be single.  I went on a 3 week trip to Europe by myself.  The reward was “I did it!”  God helped me come to terms with being alone.  It’s part of letting go.

 An expert in dealing with grief, Norman Wright, explains:  Letting go, “saying good-bye is one of the significant tasks of grieving.  It begins with accepting the reality of your loss, working through your pain, adjust to life without your loved one, withdrawing your emotional energy from this person and reinvesting it elsewhere, and finally, changing the relationship with your loved one from one of presence to one of memory” (H.N. Wright, Experiencing Grief, p.75).

 The night has been hard, and oh so long.  You’ve survived.  Equilibrium is returning.  You have a new sense of who you are.  You’ll never forget the one you lost, but you will take great comfort in the memories of all the times they proved to you how much you are loved.  Some of those memories will be bittersweet, sweet in that you remember being loved; bitter in that the one who loved you is no longer with you.  That’s a part of your reality now and you're coming to terms with it. 

Letting go is your challenge just before dawn.  Letting go is letting yourself go on into a new day.

 My prayer for you just before dawn is Isaiah 43:19—

See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

 Father, help us to perceive the new thing you are doing in our lives, creating beauty from the ashes.  Thank you for the coming dawn.


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