It’s Thanksgiving week. Some people are busy packing suitcases, some people are busy making grocery lists, and some people are just wondering how they’ll ever make it through the day.
For those grieving any kind of loss, holidays seem to magnify every aspect of what used to be but no longer is. Their broken hearts are filled to the brim with desperate longings to experience just one more day of life before ___________ happened. Or maybe its the death of dream that never materialized. No matter the situation, the sadness can be all-consuming.
A very long time ago, an Old Testament writer was so full-up with grief that he poured his soul into a book of poetry he titled, Lamentations. I’m believing this guy could teach us a thing or two about healthy grieving. He dedicates over one hundred fifty lines to describing the exact nature of all he’s lost along with anguished pleadings that God would somehow “…renew the days of old” (5:21).
It’s not light reading.
Yet here’s what’s fascinating. Sprinkled throughout his agonizing lines of lament, he periodically takes a breath to remind himself of the faithfulness of God. In 3:21-22 he looks up from his tears and writes,
“Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail …”
He frames his pain in way that allows him to hold great love and great grief at the same time. And its the one thing that keeps his grief from turning toxic. Just a few lines later he returns to heavy words, but he does so with the knowledge that even so, God’s compassion does not fail.
Are you sitting with a heavy heart as Thanksgiving Day approaches? Maybe take a moment to write out or describe to a friend some specific details about the grief you are experiencing. What have you lost? What have been the consequences of this loss? As you do this, every once in a while–even if through tears–pause and take a breath. Consider calling to mind some things or people for which you can still be thankful. This is the practice of holding the good and the grief at the same time. It is not a pain free experience but it will move you forward in the healing journey. Nothing makes room for hope like great grief that is held with the great love of God.