Further Up and Further In
One year ago today Jesus carried Jim to heaven! Today I know he is continuing to move “further up and further in” and for Jim the real adventures are just beginning! We too are moving further up and further into our grief.
I guess enough people told me that the first year would be the hardest and I had this wrong thinking about life after the first year without Jim. I am not sure that the second or the third years will be any easier; in fact I really doubt it, but what I have learned in the past year about grief has only been learned by living it. If you have ever swam in the ocean you know that riding a wave is enjoyable, but being knocked down by a wave and pulled under is a frightening thing. The same is true with grief. When you see a wave coming, if you are able to meet it and ride it, although it is not enjoyable, the grief is manageable. To be pulled under by an unexpected wave of grief though is a hard thing to bear and it feels as if the wind has been knocked out of you. I am learning to embrace my grief. Rather than fleeing from it or ignoring it I have learned that grief is relentless so I am trying to “go with the wave”; I am trying to walk through the pain with praise, knowing that Grace is able to sustain me and is embracing me without letting go. I don’t mean that I am free from sorrow, but I know that as hard as any given day may be, Jesus’ love for me is stronger and He will show me how to endure the grief of the moment, the hour, the day, the week, or the month and come out of it with a song of joy and gratitude in my heart.
I have learned more of how much I am blessed. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted.” I am seeing from another angle just how important the Body of Christ is as the means of comfort. The faithful prayers and sustaining relationships, even when “stiff-armed”, has made a powerful impact on all of us. It has been difficult to allow people into our grief, but we are experiencing people who are trustworthy when we do allow them to share our sorrow.
I have learned more and more about the importance of remembering. We love hearing Jim’s name, stories and memories are healing, and we want to talk about him. Many people are afraid to bring Jim up for fear of upsetting us, others are uncomfortable hearing about him, and some don’t know what to say. Even when we weep or are silent in response we still love to hear about him. He deserves to be loved and remembered because he was unique and wonderful. It keeps his memory from fading. I am so grateful for the people who share their stories, especially those who wanted to come sit in the cold at the beach and reminisce with us on the one year anniversary. In fact as we shared I could see and hear Jim all around me.
I am learning to grieve as one with hope! I look forward to the day when Jim meets me on the porch with a cup of “eterni-tea” and the real adventure I was created for begins. Further up and further in forever. (This picture will have to do until I get one from the Bonfire! BTW – I heard it was National Bonfire day!)