How do you process grief while holding on to hope?
Grief comes in so many shapes. It comes when it’s expected and when it’s not. It comes with physical loss, relational loss, and emotional loss. It can be a slow ebb and flow, and it can be a tidal wave. Some people can understand at least a little. Others awkwardly comfort, because they are uncomfortable, insensitive, or simply struggling with their own stuff. We try to compare grief, weigh grief, assess grief, and push away grief. Sitting in it can be overwhelming. Explaining it can be insensitive and confusing. Sharing it can be difficult and uncomfortable but reassuring.
Grief leaves room for hope, but it’s not an easy relationship. Hope cannot be forced. Grief is too unpredictable to be able to consistently grab hold of and incorporate hope. It is more sporadic. It is as if we glimpse hope or feel hope but then sense darkness overwhelming it. Perhaps the best thing we can do is acknowledge hope exists even when we cannot experience or express it.
We experience grief with both darkness and light. The darkness swallows us. At the time, it seems as if it will not move. It camps around us. But it is like sitting in a poorly lit room on a cloudy day. The small window reveals little light, but light still exists. It is not readily accessible, and there’s nothing we can do to push away the clouds and reveal the sunlight. By the time the clouds break just enough for a peek at the sun, we are too tired to notice it. We’ve pulled the cover over our head and turned away from the window. Even if we notice it, we can find it annoying. As much as we don’t like the dark, we don’t want to be blinded by brightness either.
Sometimes we see the sun, and it is a reminder of hope. We want to grasp onto it, but clouds drift across our access to it.
Hope is not something that is dependent on our access to it. Like the sunlight, it exists when we can’t see it. We sometimes assume hope is something within us, something we only experience when we are able to muster it. We don’t have to set aside grief in order to acknowledge hope. It is not either/or. They exist together because of the pervasiveness of hope. Even when we don’t feel or understand hope, God provides and embodies it.
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)
Hope is not something a verse can claim for you. It is something you must seek and grasp. And in the middle of grief, that might not seem feasible. But maybe a seed of hope is growing, and you will see it sprout and produce fruit in due time.