Healing Through Grief - Lauren Watt
I never imagined how wonderful and yet how hard healing would be.
You see, I've been very sick and mostly confined to bed for seven years and only recently have begun to experience tastes of "normal" life. While I now feel joy at sometimes being able to enjoy a short outing, walk outside, read, and visit friends, I am simultaneously sometimes feeling sad because I'm more acutely aware of what I've missed out on for seven years and continue to miss out on a majority of the time.
I used to think grief was a word reserved for only feeling sadness over the death of a loved one. But grief is a response to all sorts of suffering, and it is what I am sometimes feeling.
Yes, I feel joy over the fact I can now sometimes make the trip with my family to visit my grandmother. I feel joy that I can sometimes take a mile walk. I feel joy that I can sometimes think clearly enough to have long conversations with family and friends. But now that I again know what it's like to be able to do those things, I feel sadder when I am unable to enjoy them. I feel sad when I try to reconnect with old friends but realize that my illness has caused relationship strain.
I used to wake up each morning with little reason to expect I’d be able to do almost anything besides lay in bed, and I gradually found acceptance and peace in my circumstances. I was in “survival mode,” and I didn’t have the mental bandwidth to fully process what was happening. But now I am slowly coming out of “survival mode," and I am wrestling with hard realities, realizing just how much illness has stolen, and grieving.
Sometimes I am tempted to simply try to forget my experiences and move on, but true healing and growth comes from honest reflection, tears, and prayer. In fact, grief is a necessary part of truly healing from my experiences. It's said that time heals all wounds, but time alone doesn't heal wounds, at least not properly. So I let myself feel the sadness. I talk to God about it, knowing that He not only wants me to come to Him when I am happy but also when I am sad. The Bible is full of laments, full of people honestly bringing their pain, questions, and even anger to God. It is a pathway for powerful transformation because it allows God into the hurt and to work His healing, and He responds with compassion. Psalm 13 is one such example of this. It begins with complaint and ends with praise as King David takes his pain and confusion to God.
Grief does not simply move from Point A to Point B. It's up and down and sometimes wildly unpredictable. But as I grieve, I am gradually beginning to sing a new song, a beautiful song, of praise to God. I am beginning to heal, to see the benefits of my suffering, and to gain a new perspective. I’ve already seen glimpses of the good things that have come from my suffering. My faith is stronger. I stop to marvel and photograph little things that bring me joy. I've become friends with others who suffer from chronic illness who I would have never had known otherwise. I've written cards and emails from a place of deeper compassion and understanding. I've had the opportunity to pray with and for others who are hurting. I blog regularly. And I am sure God is using my suffering in even more ways than I can see. Sometimes He uses what He hates to accomplish what He loves.
Processing my grief is not an easy road, but by allowing myself to feel the sadness, I am also allowing myself to truly heal. I am allowing myself to emerge on the other side singing a genuine song of praise to God who brings beauty from ashes and restores the years the locusts have eaten.
Lauren Watt is a twenty-one year old Christian who has been in an intense battle with Babesia and Bartonella, Lyme disease co-infections, since 2015. She runs a website, Lauren’s Easel, where she sells her artwork and blogs regularly. She lives at home with her parents and feathered and furry friends, and she has two older brothers and a sister-in-law. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.