One of the things I love about the Masaii Mara in Kenya is that you never know what is around the next bend. You can drive for miles and see nothing but wide open plains dotted with acacia trees and then out of nowhere you see a lion crouched for a kill. Each safari is unique…each carries unexpected surprises, both good and bad. (Click here for more about a bad safari surprise). The bird in the picture above is a clown crane…the first time I saw one of these strange birds, I was captivated by its uniqueness.
C.S. Lewis describes grief as “a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape.” Grief is strange. It is different. It is unique to each individual. Just when you think you will never feel joy again, something surprises you and you are reminded that there is hope for tomorrow. The adverse is also true. You may be feeling like you are starting to conquer this thing called grief when out of the blue the pain hits you like a mac truck.
Several years after Michael passed away, I was driving to town much like any other day. I had fallen into a new routine and was focused on my “to do” list, when I drove past a building that had been just been torn down. Dust clouds were surrounding the ruins. One look at this and I began to sob…I’m talking ugly tears — uncontrollable.
“What was wrong with me? Why was I crying over a building?” I lamented. Then it hit me. My life was like this building. What had once seemed strong and secure had come crumbling down all around me, leaving me in the dusty remains.
Why do some things upset us when we are grieving while other things don’t? For me, the days I dreaded (birthdays and anniversaries) were often easier than unanticipated days (someone calling and asking for Michael on the phone).
For those of you who are walking in the valley of the shadow of death, I want to encourage you to keep moving forward. Each curve may bring new landscapes (good and bad), but before you know it you notice the air seems to be fresher and the sights more captivating. Grief is a strange bird and is different for everyone. Just because someone is grieving differently than you does not mean that they are not hurting. Be patient with each other and allow those around you to grieve in their own way, even if it seems strange to you.