Words of Hope:  The Complexity of Grief 

A friend sent me a video of their school singing the worship song, “Goodness of God” by CeCe Winans. This is the song our family sang at Dad’s celebration of life. It is a bittersweet song full of joy and full of deep sorrow. This is what has surprised me the most about grief. It is one of the most complex emotions I have felt. I think of Jesus as He is described by Isaiah, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. This acquaintance has changed me profoundly, in some ways for the better but in some ways for the worse.  

My mind is much more fragile, and I forget more easily. I am much more mentally anxious and suspicious; I require more mental space. My grief has not just been about Dad dying but also the loss of respect for a school my kids and I devoted our life to, as well as the desolation of empty nesting. Grief amplifies grief. It is like a large bag of stones, where just one small additional sorrow can add to its astounding weight. Jesus was a man of sorrows. I also believe He was full of wonder and joy, but I like that He did not betray His deep sorrow with false rejoicing in the garden before His crucifixion. He gives us a picture of his suffering and the depth of his grief.  

Grief takes me out of the composed, extremely rational mind, the logical mind, the linear one-two-three clinical steps. Instead, it requires me to adopt an artistic mindset, a mind that embraces things that are messy, paradoxical, mysterious, or beyond my ability to grasp.  

The complexity of grief slows me down so I am staring at the hoarfrost on a leaf with earnest attention and in that moment, there is respite and comfort.    

He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. – Isaiah 53