Watching Others Grieve – An Invitation to Process Our Fears

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Death always seems to shock us. The loss of a celebrity especially confuses us communally. How can it be so? For it’s almost as though they possess a false sense of invincibility. But they too are mortals and their deaths remind us of our own mortality–is it that we are forgetful or that we’re intentionally avoidant because we’re afraid? C. S. Lewis, in grieving the death of his wife, remarked that no one told him that grief felt so much like fear. And it is true. Having lost my own child and my father, I know the disbelief, the shock, the fear, and the aching sorrow that hits when we come face to face with loss. 

I’ve been quietly watching the world’s responses to yesterday’s helicopter crash that killed Kobe and Gianna Bryant, John, Keri, and Alyssa Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Sarah and Payton Chester, and Ara Zobayan. Comments like “I can’t imagine what she must be going through” – “How can she go on after losing her husband and child?” – “I couldn’t survive the deaths of my spouse and child” seem to be the common responses.

Can I confess something here in this space? Sometimes these comments make me wince. Perhaps death and loss have jaded me a bit and I work to be gentle, but in this space I will be honest and this is my response to those comments. Imagine. Imagine losing the people you love. Do it. I know it feels terrifying… but can you imagine? Can you walk through the losses and fears and emotions that surface with Jesus? 

Can I tell you something? You can. You can imagine. You can walk it out with Him. And if the worst should ever happen to you, you can and will walk it and survive it. Those who survive tragic losses are no more supernatural than you. They are no stronger than you. Humans (especially those in dwelt by His Spirit) have the capacity to survive great and horrendous losses and tragedies and endure the pain that is unavoidable (although we go through great lengths to try). We just do it. But we do have choices as to make as to whether we walk toward healing or our own destruction. 

One thing I’ve learned after walking through my own nightmares, is that you lean in hard and you survive by making the decision to show up and do the next thing in front of you. First, you just rest. You grieve and rest, grieve and rest. And then maybe you step out of bed or take a shower or go on a walk or take a trip to the grocery store. We can endure pain and loss. We can endure our worst nightmares. By God’s strength and grace and the prayers of many. We can live through the unbearable with Him and others who help us bear it. And one day, after we’ve spent much time feeling like we’ve been buried right along with the people we loved, we find ourselves alive, although often feeling like a stranger to our lives, but we discover how to live after loss.

Can I tell you something else? Prayer is a tangible force I have felt and has carried me more times than I can count. Pray. It is no little thing. Prayer ushers in the Kingdom of God. Pray for God’s nearness and comfort. If you sense a tingling of grief yourself for someone you never personally knew, it’s okay. Tears are a part of grief and grief is a natural response to death however close it seems to us. Give yourself permission to feel. And know that you don’t have to carry what you feel alone. 

Let us not fear or avoid death or grief or pain. Let us live in awareness of it and know that death and pain never get the final say. Jesus is with us. Do you trust and believe this? It’s of utmost importance you do. Let us make the most of our days and fill the world with His light and love that heals the pain and pushes back the darkness.

“Beautiful and terrible things will happen. Don’t be afraid. I am with you. Nothing can ever separate us.”

-Frederick Buechner

If you’re facing something hard, if you’re facing your own loss, if this loss has triggered something in you, if you’re full or sorrow or fear, seek the Lord. I created a guide to help you do this, you can get it free when you click here.

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rainbow 'enthusiast,' ENNEAGRAM 4, deep thinker + deeper feeler

I'm Kristin.
Your host here and new writing

I'm a bereaved mom, former English teacher and stay-at-home mom (to two growing boys), veteran military spouse married to my high school sweetheart, contemplative creative, writer, and writing coach. I'm all about spreading the love of writing as a way of healing and hope.

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