I’ve been thinking about grief and loss...

O Lord, Enlarge My Soul!

Loss came suddenly for Jerry Sittser. In an instant, a tragic accident claimed three generations of his family: his mother (his past), his wife (his present), and his young daughter (his future). Jerry’s response was to plumb the depths of his sorrow in order to understand the grace that eventually transforms it. His journey through the dark days after the accident and his poignant discoveries are recorded in a book called A Grace Disguised.

In other words, though I experienced death, I also experienced life in ways that I never thought possible before – not after the darkness, as we might suppose, but in the darkness. I did not go through pain and come out the other side; instead, I lived in it and found within that pain the grace to survive and eventually grow. I did not get over the loss of my loved ones; rather, I absorbed the loss into my life, like soil receives decaying matter, until it became a part of who I am. Sorrow took up permanent residence in my soul and enlarged it. 

In March my father died of a heart attack. Two weeks later my precious six-year-old nephew, Austin Moore, died suddenly of brain cancer. Our family moved from sunshine to shock to profound sorrow at the magnitude of these losses. Since then I have been navigating the dark and unpredictable world of grief. Just when life begins to feel normal - grief jolts me back to reality and rolls over me once again. My struggle is not with recovering from the losses (because that is not possible) but with absorbing the losses and growing because of them.

The soul is elastic, like a balloon. Loss can enlarge its capacity for anger, depression, despair, and anguish, all natural and legitimate emotions whenever we experience loss. Once enlarged, the soul is also capable of experiencing greater joy, strength, peace, and love.

O Lord, do your work in me and enlarge my soul!

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
And saves those who are crushed (or contrite) in spirit. 

Psalm 34:18