Abundant life after the Grief

27 years ago today, my life changed forever.  The day began with an abundance of joy and expectation.  It ended with me in ICU fighting for my life and a precious friend having lost that fight.  June 25, 1992 feels like yesterday and it feels like ages ago.  They say that time heals.  That is a great saying but it simply is not true.  Time goes by; memories fade; but pain remains until it is healed.  

Over the past 27 years, I have learned a lot about grief — there is healthy grief and there is unhealthy grief.  In healthy grief, a person works through the processes of the grief cycle; there is no certainty of what it will look like or how long it will last.  We simply don’t get to be in control of grief.  Nevertheless, at the end of the grief cycle there is still the loss and the scars of that loss but there is also an acceptance and a healing, the ability to move on with life.

In unhealthy grief, a person gets stuck in the cycle.  It can be in denial, guilt, anger, sadness, etc.  For many years, I was stuck in grief.  I held onto shame, guilt, and a lingering sadness that I would not entrust to anyone, even to the Lord.  In retrospect, I see that I was trying to punish myself for an accident.  If I had just looked one more time; if I were just a bit more careful; if only, if only, if only………There is no guilt, no punishment that can ever bring Kerrie back or that can change that fateful day.  Until I stand face to face with Jesus, I will never know why He took Kerrie home that day or why I was the one chosen to drive that car and to spend those last hours with Kerrie.  

Here is the good news — time does not heal but God does. What I do know is that the Lord doesn’t want me stuck in unhealthy grief.  Kerrie would not want me stuck there either.  I know without a doubt that Kerrie is healed, whole, beautiful and even more joy filled than she was here on earth.  

So, I have decided to lay that guilt and shame down; I have decided to move on with the grieving cycle.  In doing so, I have not let go of Kerrie.  I have just used to words she loved to say:  “Christians don’t say good bye, just see you later.”  

How I look forward to the day that I see Kerrie again.  That time, I know there will be no good byes, no see you laters as we will have eternity together with the Lord.  Until then, I treasure the memories; I treasure the last conversations; and I choose to trust that while God’s plans and purposes can be quite painful, He is good.

Time doesn’t heal wounds but God heals wounds if we allow Him to do so.  The healing journey is the hardest journey I have ever taken and the very best journey I have ever taken.  God’s heart is to heal:  “The Lord heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3).

May God empower you and may He continue to empower me to walk this journey of faith with our eyes set on our Savior and healer.  Final healing comes on that last day, but there is healing for us as we walk these days on earth.  There is abundant life in the midst of grief.  

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation.  But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

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