Can Christians Grieve?

Grief: deep sorrow; trouble or annoyance.

When my husband died, I didn’t really understand grief. I didn’t know how to manage it. Often, the words of “comfort” I got from other Christians made me wonder if I had enough faith. If I had enough faith, I wouldn’t be sad but would be celebrating. If I had enough faith, I would just keep on going. I often heard this verse:

“give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5:18 NIV

I couldn’t give thanks for my husbands death. Did that mean my faith was empty? Did I need to be happy and cheerful and not weep? Was I failing by grieving deeply?

The answer: NO. My faith gave me hope through the tears and pain. Faith allowed me to be thankful for the time and the family we had while still grieving the loss. Faith upheld me when I couldn’t stand on my own.

I have friends that are grieving today. Not the loss of a person, but the loss of something important and special. Anytime there is change, good or bad, there is a time of grief for what is no more. We may grieve the death of a dream, an idea or an expectation. We grieve when someone we greatly admire falls off of the pedestal and proves they are human. We grieve when something we love and have worked to support is irrevocably changed.

One thing I have learned to accept over the years is that I NEED to allow myself to grieve. No matter how important or trivial the issue is, I have to process it. I have to work through it in order to move on as a whole person. Not only do I need to grieve, I cannot feel guilt (or at times superiority) for my grief. My grief is not meant to shame or belittle anyone else. It’s my process and mine alone.

“being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”Philippians 1:6

No matter how broken things appear, no matter how helpless I feel, I know that God controls it all. There will be times when I need to sit and rest for a bit, catch my breath, and then start the journey again. I may cry bitter tears, but that’s okay. I have my eyes on the prize that God has set before me.

Peeps and my Grief

Bunnies and Chicks

Peeps: you either love them or you hate them. My late husband loved Peeps. Any color, any flavor, any shape-he would eat them. My kids were never excited about receiving them at Easter. He was happy to eat their rejects.

The first spring after Terry’s death, I was in a store and the Easter Peeps were on the shelves. My heart jumped. Like a woman obsessed, I searched the shelves to be sure I had both bunnies and chicks in every color. When I unveiled my Peeps stash to my kids, they were bewildered. None of us ate Peeps. They thought Mom had lost it. Again. I couldn’t explain it. I just “needed” to buy Peeps just like I used to do, one more time.

I continue to buy Peeps at Easter. Not in the volume as that first year, but I still purchase at least a small pack of four. This year, my grandson and I bought purple bunny peeps. I explained to him that his Grandfather Terry loved Peeps. He had great fun stuffing the bunny peeps in plastic eggs. He saved the last one for me.

In the beginning, seeing Easter Peeps reminded how much I missed Terry. They brought me to tears and caused panic feelings. I bought them as a way to reach back and grab the memory of our life together. Gradually, the tears were replaced with smiles.

I still look forward to the Easter Peeps. But now, they bring joyful memories. I buy Peeps to remind me of the gifts of the past and the promise of the future. I can build new traditions with my grandson while honoring my memory of Terry.

Grief never disappears. It will always color everything in my life. Grief taught me about kindness and empathy. Grief opened my eyes to the love of my Heavenly Father in a completely new way. I’ve never been thankful for the pain of grief, but I am grateful for the growth grief forced me to do.

Peeps show up every Easter and remind me that “joy comes in the morning”. Joy and laughter have replaced sadness and sorrow. I think I’ll go enjoy a purple bunny peep. Happy Easter!