Our World is Grieving and Needs Hope Too

I almost decided not to post this month because the world has been turned upside down through a pandemic. Then I decided that this month’s blog was more crucial than ever because the world has been turned upside down through a pandemic. It randomly hit me as I opened my computer that the world now feels how I feel.
 
Grief comes in many forms and for many different reasons. While 2 months ago today I lost my best friend and only biological sibling, all across the world people are grieving as well. Tragically many are grieving the loss of their loved ones due to a relentlessly spreading virus known as coronavirus, or COVID-19. However, millions are simply grieving the lives they once knew before COVID-19 made its way around the globe. Whether we know someone who has been diagnosed with it or not, all of our lives have changed forever. We can no longer go to work if our careers that we worked so hard to attain are not deemed ‘essential’. Social distancing is now our new normal and yet there is nothing normal about it. There is nothing you can watch on television or view online that doesn’t at least mention the virus. I struggled with if I would mention the virus, but our world is grieving and needs hope too. Whether you have physically lost someone to death or your way of living is lost to COVID-19, there is hope.
 
Please keep in mind that the Grief +hope journey will always require a shift in perspective.
Today my hope is attached to God’s timing.
In this grief + hope journey, my hope can never fail if it is attached to something that is perfect. And God’s timing is just that! I can’t help but think about how right after my sister died, I kept saying that the whole situation happened too fast. I was secretly disappointed because on January 1, 2020, we were told she had pneumonia again so we attempted to plan her Smile Day Part 2 for February 15, 2020. Instead, her funeral was that day. I remember feeling horrible that I didn’t push to plan it sooner. I questioned God on why He took her so fast. I thought, “Didn’t he know the plans we had?” Sure He did, but I didn’t know the plans He had. Now I’m eternally grateful to God that He took her when He did. We are living in a time where it is unhealthy to even have a funeral to the magnitude that we wanted and had for Kayla. His timing is always perfect.
There are 3 scriptures that remind me of this:
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” Ecclesiastes 3:1 
This brings me comfort because it assures me that everything, every single activity that is happening in our world is allowed and planned by God. He is allowing this world to experience this virus in 2020 for however long He decides it will last. It’s not my place to understand why and for how long, but I’m comforted in the one that is in control.
“ But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:8-9
Many people have been counting the days that they have been in quarantine. They are growing anxious and irritable because they are in mourning of their old life and can not wait for this season to end. The longer this process goes I am in a strong belief that God is using this time to be patient. He is patiently waiting on His church to rise to the occasion and spread His gospel even with the doors of sanctuaries closed indefinitely. He is waiting on His families to get themselves back into a place of loving each other in harmony instead of coexisting in a hurry. This perspective takes extreme maturity, but ask yourself during this season “What is God patiently waiting on me for?”
“ For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” Jeremiah 29:11-12
This is one of my favorite scriptures of all time. He plans for us to have hope and a future. Plans take time to perfect. It is our job right now to be patient and let the plan He has perfected and set before us go into fruition. We are also instructed to call on Him and pray. He has promised us that He will hear us!
Grief + Hope= Laughter
While the world is in a frantic search for a cure, do not let your spirit be consumed with sadness and fear. Proverbs 17: 22 teaches us, “A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.”
 
My laughter is getting me through this season of grief. Kayla’s favorite pass time was laughing. Both of us were blessed with an amazing sense of humor from our father. Between the 3 of us we would always find something in the room to laugh at. Kayla had a hard life to live with her illness so she found her medicine in laughter. I now honor her by laughing as much as I possibly can.
 
In the last 2 months, I have made an intentional decision to laugh every single day, multiple times a day. Simply because I feel better when I do it. I feel mentally and physically healthier every time I laugh. It is scientifically proven that laughing decreases stress, boosts your immune system, burns calories, relaxes muscles, and prevents heart disease.
During this season, please do yourself a favor and laugh! Turn off the news, find a funny television show, play a game with your family, make up silly dances and songs, talk with people (over the phone) that make you laugh. Just do something and laugh about it!
 
It is my prayer that through this journey of grief + hope, you are comforted in the fact that His timing is perfect. I also pray something makes you laugh uncontrollably today!

Solving the Equation: Grief + Hope= x

Exactly a month ago my only sister, Kayla, went to be with God. And it still doesn’t seem real…

 In that month I have done the following:  Cried; screamed; prayed; went back to work too early while planning her funeral; entertained and comforted too many people; had a panic attack inside her favorite restaurant; buried her; tried to go back to work again; was diagnosed with depression and anxiety due to grief; took a leave of absence from my job; went to therapy. Needless to say, February was the busiest, most painful yet hopeful month of my life.

 

I will grieve with hope!

When speaking at my sister’s funeral there was one thing I wanted to make sure everyone knew and understood…  I will grieve with hope! While saying that sounds good, I really had to do the work of discovering what grief plus hope equals together.
In high school, I loved Algebra and Trigonometry. I loved it because there were always equations (what I saw as mysteries) that had variables that equaled an answer, but it was my job as the student to find an unknown variable.
 
Months before my sister died God allowed me to see people who had heart-wrenching losses that were still living and loving life. And there is where the equation formed…
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Grief  + Hope = _______
The Bible teaches us to not grieve as those with no hope! Solving the equation doesn’t mean all my problems are fixed. And it definitely isn’t going to bring Kayla back, but I have to hold onto something. All I have is hope. Now I have to figure out what hope looks like added to grief.
 
Two questions will always be answered through this journey of grief + hope… What is my hope attached to? And What does this hope look like?
I’m learning through this journey that I must ask myself these questions every day just to function. I pray these questions can help you through your hope journey as well.
What is my hope attached to?
Today my hope is attached to the fact that God did not fail and He is not punishing me. When God decides to take someone dear to our heart we often ask why would He do such a hurtful thing. As Christians we have to realize that while grief is painful, death is not meant as a hurtful or vengeful act from God. It’s quite the opposite. Death is a promised part of life where we meet our Savior and we are free from the pains of the world. For me, that’s where my hope lies because of how much pain I know my sister had been in all 20 years of her life. Yes, grief is painful but God is not hurting us by relieving someone we love of agony. This peice of hope took a long time to grasp. I was fortunate enough to know that Kayla’s day to see Jesus was coming 3 years in advance while she was in hospice care. At the time, it did not feel like a positive thing, but with time, prayer, and hope my perspective has shifted.
 
Grief + hope is a JOURNEY. And in this journey perspective will keep your heart at peace. I pray that perspective helps you see that the loved one God wanted back with Him is at complete peace and rest. This is God’s will and I pray that #ItisWell with your soul.
What does hope look like?
Today my hope looks like balance!
Even though my hope is in God, my heart is still in pain and my mind is everywhere. That is why I will be in therapy for a very long time. Yes you read that correctly. I am a firm believer in the power of prayer and a psychiatrist. I’ll also be at a Broadway show next weekend and a cruise the week after that! It may sound strange, but my life needs balance right now. My life was turned upside down when Kayla took her last breath. In spite of that, I refuse to cry all day or stay in the house the rest of my life.
 
Between the time of Kayla’s death and funeral, I went to work thinking that staying “productive” was the best thing for me. The first few days were fine and working seemed to help. However, after her burial I couldn’t do anything but cry. The thought of being productive or moving on with my life felt like I was insulting my sister’s memory. I cried frequently and randomly for long periods of time. I knew I was not ok and prayer alone could not fix this.
 
Before you get upset by my last statement, please remember that faith without works is dead. It’s all about balance! When my doctor evaluated me and said I was depressed and needed time off of work, I knew I had to start living and taking care of myself. Caring for myself included therapy and relaxation. It feels strange and very uncomfortable, but it actually is the will of God for our lives. The bible says that Jesus came that we have life and life more abundantly. In 3 John 1:2 it says “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.”
In this grief + hope journey, balance is imperative to your mental health.
 
I’m only a month into the grief + hope journey, but I pray this helps someone walk the same journey my family and I are walking. Grief is not easy but it is all about perspective and balance! #ItisWell
 
 
Please remember that others can benefit from hearing your story.
If you would like to share your grief + hope journey, please reach out at griefplushope@gmail.com
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