The Grief Cup

I just can’t wait for the holidays to be over.

I can’t believe I’m saying it.  I don’t want to be saying it. But this week has been more than I can bear at times.

Tage.  He’s supposed to be here.  With us.

He’s supposed to be looking at the lights with us, ripping leftover pieces of wrapping paper, sitting beside us in restaurants in a highchair, making the family smile as he gets passed from person to person, waking us up at 7am every morning and making us leave parties early to get him to bed at night, riding behind us in the car with his deep blue eyes looking at me in his mirror and drooling down my shirt right as we’re walking out the door.  There are just so many holes where Tage was supposed to be this past week.  And every day.

Yesterday, Josh and I spent the entire day at home for the first time in weeks.  We were alone — no family, no friends, no list of errands of all the things we needed to get done.  There was time to just be.

But when things get quiet, my mind starts to wander, and my heart starts to feel things.  I realized that my grief cup was more than full, and that I needed to let a little out.  It had been threatening to undo me for a while now, but we’ve been so busy that I never had time to let it run wild and have its way with me the way grief so ravenously does.

But now, we are home and not busy for a few short days before we take one more trip to get us through this holiday season. Okay, we’re doing this today,  I promised my grief.  And just as I started to let my eyes brim with tears, a visitor pulled into the driveway.  I shoved the tears back in. I can do this later.

And then the dishes called to me from the sink, and a sister needed to talk for a bit, and then Josh said he was coming home and wanted to run with me.  I can do this later.

Josh came down dressed and ready to run and with a certain spring in his step.  (His emotional day this week had been the day before. Sometimes I have wondered, why can we never seem to be sad on the same day?  But I’ve found it’s actually a blessing because we require a lot of care when it’s “our” day.)  So good thing he’s feeling peppy because I’m pretty sure today is going to be my day.  

We started talking as we ran, but I think the bouncing and running must have sloshed the grief around in my cup, because it started coming out of my eyes for no apparent reason.

He thought I was mad at him for some mysterious reason when I suddenly just stopped talking completely and asked if we could talk about it later.  “Why can’t we talk about it now?” he asked.  But fearing I would lose it right then and there in the street, I told him that I just couldn’t breathe.  Then suddenly, I really couldn’t breathe because the grief was choking me.  I tried to shove it back in.  Ugh, not now!  I told Josh he could run on ahead of me for a minute and swing back later.  Poor guy probably thought I was really mad at him then.

With Josh way up ahead, I let my mind go, and it didn’t take long at all before the grief was really sloshing out.  I was heaving, wheezing, making odd crying sounds.  I had to stop and take deep breaths as I hyperventilated right there on the sidewalk.

When I caught up to Josh ten minutes later, I couldn’t say a word because I was becoming more teary by the minute.  I silent-cried the whole way back to the house.  It was a long, silent, awkward walk as I stewed about life, about the drama of the holidays, about the dumb choice we made to have some work done on our house right now, and about the mess in our house because of said work.  Still thinking I was mad at him, he offered me his gloves as a peace offering.  He’s a really good guy.

Then he offered me a high-five for a good run, and for some reason unbeknownst to me, that high-five did make me angry.  I don’t care about having a good run right now!  I couldn’t care less if I walked the whole way or even walked slower than a walk or somehow walked negative!

I was angry.  But not at Josh at all.  I was angry that Tage is gone.  I was angry that the person I want to talk to most in all of this is my mom, and she’s gone, too.  I was angry that all I’ve ever wanted is a family, and it seems that having a family the way I’ve always envisioned may not be God’s plan for us.  I was angry that there were people on the news who abuse their kids in the worst kinds of ways.  I was angry that I had allowed myself to scroll through Facebook that morning, because I know better than to do that right now.  I was angry that some of our dearest people in our lives are going to be having babies, and I so desperately want to be happy for them but right now it only brings tears.  But mostly, more than anything, I was just so damn angry that I am not holding my baby anymore!

And with all of that, I went straight upstairs in my stinky exercise clothes and flopped myself down on our bed, lifeless, eyes puffy, head throbbing, unable to breathe because of the giant lump in my throat and the anvil in my heart.

I wanted to die right then.  Lord, please take me now, I’m begging you. I can’t do this.  I don’t want to do this.  I don’t want to feel so sad.  I want to be with Tage.  Can You just do me one little favor and take me?

But He didn’t.  Instead, He sent Josh up who came bearing toilet paper and a glass of water.  He lied down next to me silently and simply held my hand while I cried and cried and cried until I could finally speak.

“This is just too heavy,” I confessed. “I don’t think I can do this.  It hurts too deeply.  I don’t want to live without Tage.”

“I’m so sorry, girl.”

I continued to sob.  “I just need more time with him.  I need him to come back.  This is more than I can bear.”

“I miss him, too, Love.”

The tears would not stop.  My grief cup was doing some long overdue dumping.

Then came the thought, some faith filled person you are, Molly.  Look at you.  Where is this Hope you claim as you lie here in a pool of tears?  And I believed it.  For a second.

But then came the reminder:

…a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. (Isaiah 53:3)

Jesus was fully man.  He was fully human, and even He, knowing how wonderfully it all will end, knew grief.  He is a God who does not look down upon the world and smite us; rather, He made Himself nothing, taking on the skin of we frail human beings.  He knows every emotion we feel.  He knows every pain we encounter, because He has personally experienced them.

And I am so grateful that that is the kind of God he is.  What love!

He knows how I feel because He has felt grief.  When Jesus wept (Luke 19:41, John 11:35), He wasn’t afraid to show how much He hurt, and He doesn’t expect me to hide my hurt either.  He knows how far away Heaven feels to me today, and He knows how long the future seems to me without Tage.  He didn’t get any short cuts either.  He just had to feel it, to experience it, to journey through it.  And so neither does He try to rush me through my grief.

He really gets it.

As my eyes finally began to dry and my grief was emptied out (for the time being), I sat up, took a deep breath and felt the blood rushing around to the other parts of my body .  Crying is the only way I can empty myself of the grief, and boy, there sure is a lot of it.  It must come out.  And I feel so much better after it does.

Once my cup has been emptied a little bit, I have room to take on the next day.  It’s like the storm cloud has finally moved beyond.  The dark clouds are off in the east, the air smells misty, and the pavement is wet with the remnants of the storm.  The hard winds have blown, and they are bound to come again, but for now, there is some peace.

And the rain is good for the earth.

I was reminded of that today when Josh was cleaning out the garage.  He found this old pot that had been sitting in the garage for a long time, and he came in to ask me if I still needed it.

It was a pot full of daffodil bulbs.  They were given to us in the hospital when Tage was born in March, and I had been excited that they would bloom in our yard every year around his birthday. I had hoped to plant them in the fall so they’d come up in the spring.  But I had never gotten around to it.

Discouraged, I took the pot in my hands and looked at all the dried, dead bulbs.

And then I noticed something.  Out there in that cold, dark garage at the very end of December, something bizarre was happening to Tage’s bulbs.  The dry, flaky bulbs were beginning to sprout their spring green beauty!  What the?!

Something inside me lit up, and I felt God reminding me…Molly, I am not done with Tage’s story yet.  Don’t forget that.  I always bring life from death.  You just wait and see.

So, I brought those beautiful, little bulbs inside, and I watered them.  Rain is good for the earth.  My tears are good for my healing.  They both bring life to the dry places.  God brings life to our dry and dead places.

I think I expected my faith to make this hurt less.  It doesn’t.

Our faith has given us an abundance of strength, comfort, encouragement, and hope, but it doesn’t make it hurt any less.  We still have to grief.  It still takes a long time.  And it hurts more than anything I’ve ever experienced.

But the promise is that God knows our pain.  He really knows it.  And He also promises to use it.  He specializes in creating life out of dead things.

And today, He reminded me that He’s doing just that.

…and that is really is okay to cry.  A lot.  Because the grief cup must be emptied.

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3 thoughts on “The Grief Cup

  1. You are an amazing writer. Thank you for allowing me to be on this journey with you via your posts. The Connell family is thinking and praying for you daily.

    Michelle Connell Sent from my iPhone

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  2. Oh Molly, Molly, Molly. As hard as it is, you ARE listening to God. My Grandma McCracken, your great grandmother used to say, God guarantees a safe journey but not necessarily a smooth landing. You certainly not having a smooth journey but you are safe in God’s hands. And so is Tage. Grief is REALLY hard, exhausting work. With God’s help you are making it even in small steps. Much love to you and Josh.

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  3. Molly and Josh,

    As I read this, I continue to hurt with you for the emptiness in your life. I am thankful for the ways that God is speaking to you and His presence is near to you. I am thankful to see you continue to have be reminded to have hope even in these circumstances. I am thankful, Molly… that you have such a loving, tender-hearted husband who stands beside you and that Josh has you beside him… You both are so blessed to have each other. God is leaving you such sweet reminders of his love and care for your lives while you wait for your day to join the Lord. May we all have eyes to see the way God wants to speak his love to us. Continuing to pray for you and Josh often! May God provide the strength you need each moment of every day… and yes, weak moments also because we know they will come and then God promises to be strong in our weakness. He will continue to carry you… no doubt about His faithfulness in that. He continues to be a good, good God who loves you and Josh deeply.

    Sending love and prayers,

    Kim

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