It’s my pleasure to welcome Colleen Mitchell from Blessed are the Feet to the blog today. I read this post on her site a few weeks ago, and it resonated with me so deeply that I asked her if I could re-post it for you here.
It was so encouraging to see so many bloggers, writers and magazines acknowledging how many people were hurting and grieving during the holiday season. It means much that people stop and notice. And that they want to acknowledge and reach out and help lessen the burden of loss and grief.
I was so appreciative for that movement this year.
But I didn’t really feel like I needed it this particular year. Maybe you didn’t either.
Maybe, like me, you’ve had your long seasons of grief and your holidays that felt like all the celebrating was just salt being poured in your wound. But then this year you thought going into the season, “No, I’m okay. Thanks all for your concern, but I think this is the year I’ll finally get my joy back–unsullied and sweet.”
And you felt that hope deep down, you really did.
It seemed that finally that strange, unwanted friend Grief had gotten the message that you had tolerated her long enough, that she had finally moved on to haunt someone else with her fickle ways and weird tendency to show up out of nowhere.
You were ready to rejoin those sweet, shiny friends Joy and Peace at the holiday table this year. To laugh with them again and breathe the sigh of relief you know everyone around you has been waiting for.
And yet here we are in the days after all the hustle and bustle. And maybe you did have your share of good moments with Joy and Peace.
But I bet there are some of you who have found that even though you didn’t think she’d come for the holidays, even though you didn’t mean to let her back in, grief has arrived once again.
The biggest of the parties is done, but life is still quieter than usual. Things are still shinier than normal. Kids are still closer than the rest of the year. Friends still come and call more often.
And suddenly, it all hurts a little bit.
Like somehow you got a terrible sunburn on Christmas and now the hugs sting and your warm cozy blankets scratch and nothing feels right any more.
And you see her there, lurking in the corners of all your celebrations, curling her dark fingers around the edges of your soul. Grief is worming her way back in.
You didn’t mean to invite her. You’re not sure where she came from. But without a doubt, grief is present and has rubbed you raw once gain.
Can I just tell you that it’s okay? That I get it.
Sometimes you end up grieving when you didn’t mean to. And you feel a little ashamed because you told everyone you were okay. And you thought you meant it.
And now you’re not but you saw the relief in their eyes and you can’t bring yourself to disappoint them. So you are curling up into the darkness–alone and sorrowing–and afraid to admit it.
Friend, see me? See my hand extended to you? You don’t have to take it. Just know that it is there.
This is grief’s way with us. Never content to be understood, she morphs just when we think we have grasped her.
We start to step sure again, and without knowing how, one small stone comes loose, our foot slips, and there we are again–
tumbling down, down, down her spiraling slope.
I don’t know when she will leave you next. I don’t know how long she will lurk or just how suffocating her presence will be this time.
All I can tell you, friend, is that she stay and still you can find your way back to the table with joy and peace.
Let hope be your escort. She knows the way.
And I will sit beside you. Both in the dark and at the lighted table.
She is a fickle friend, this grief, but she comes bearing her own kind of gifts.
Don’t be afraid to receive them with open hands.
Colleen Mitchell is wife to Greg and mother to five precious sons here on earth. She also has five precious children awaiting her in heaven: her sixth son, Bryce, who flew home to heaven in his sleep on September 1, 2009, and four little ones lost to miscarriage. In 2011, she and her husband founded St .Bryce Missions in honor of their son Bryce and now run the St. Francis Emmaus Center providing access to medical care, support and education to indigenous mothers in Turrialba, Costa Rica. Colleen works out what it means to follow Jesus with her whole heart and encourage others along the way at her blog Blessed Are the Feet. She invites you to join her on adventures in love on Twitter and Instagram or Facebook.
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