Saturday, March 21, 2020

A Writer Looks at Grief

by Emme Gannon @GannonEmme 

The dictionary describes grief as, “keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow, painful regret. Agony, despair.” 

These emotions can be fueled by rejection by an agent, the loss of a pet, the death of a loved one, or any incident that collapses our world. Grief takes hold of us like a vice, smothering our creativity by snuffing out our dreams for today and tomorrow. We crash emotionally. Our bodies feel like lead. The hole in our heart produces crushing emotional pain. Our mind won’t let go of the picture of what could have been. Our self-talk changes from hope to one of despair. While these reactions often occur after loss, there is one aspect of grieving that spirals us into the dark recesses of the abyss. That is to blame God. To feel forsaken by the God who we felt we could depend on.

The Biblical story of Ruth reveals how the death of both Naomi’s husband and two sons so shattered her life that she needed someone to blame. Who better than God, who controls the universe. She even changed her name from Naomi to Mara, “because the Almighty has made my life very bitter.”

We read that Naomi’s story ended well. She traveled back to Israel with her daughter-in-law Ruth, who married her relative Boaz and gave birth to Obed, who was the grandfather of the great king David, who God described as, “A man after my own heart.” Naomi became the great-grandmother of David. She was renewed and strengthened in her old age. All because God is faithful in loss and His timing is perfect, a fact that her grieving had hidden from her. 

Naomi’s happy ending, however, isn’t what she envisioned in the beginning. She blamed God for taking away her men. Grief at her loss clouded her vision of the possibility of a bright tomorrow. 

Loss often causes us to look back and do a cross-check of our lives. We tally our successes from our failures. In our mourning we decide to abandon that which we determine did not achieve success, in spite of all our efforts. We then decide to play it safe and live in the realm where we feel in complete control—using talents with good tract records—never reaching beyond the sphere of possibilities. We stick our fingers in our ears so that we cannot hear God whisper His next assignment. One that will require a huge step of faith and maybe, just maybe, the risk of rejection by our peers. 

As we continue into Lent, that penitential time before Easter where we take an especially hard look at our walk with our Savior, let us challenge ourselves to allow the Lord to shine His light into the dark recesses of our soul. The hurts. The losses. Let Him speak His perspective into our sorrows and bring light into the dark places that have had the power to cloud our vision of who we are and what His plan is for today and tomorrow.

Loss is not defeat. Instead, when God removes something from His children, He fills that empty place with more of Himself. For now, we wait and watch and listen for His whisper that says, “This is the way. Go in it.”


Emme Gannon is a wife, mother, and grandmother who loves to write stories that stir the heart. Her award-winning writing has appeared in Focus on the Family magazine, several anthologies, and numerous newsletters. She just completed her first novel.

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