Grief is like the Ocean

Who doesn’t love a nice, relaxing trip to the beach? I know I do! To sit on the balcony (or on your lounge chair if you are a sand person) and admire this massive body of water that God created. It extends as far as the eye can see and is filled with so much life that we can’t even comprehend its magnificence. My favorite thing to do is wake up in the mornings before anyone else is up and walk on the beach. It’s so peaceful and quiet. The water is still and clear. As the day progresses the ocean seems to become more active. The water comes in and goes back out, waves crashing on the sandy shore. I could stand there forever and enjoy its beauty.

Grief was recently described to me as being like the ocean. Imagine a time when you were standing on the water’s edge just watching the water come in and out. It just barely touches your toes and then retreats into the sea. The next wave might hit a little higher, just above your ankles. But then it barely makes it to your toes again. As you turn to look for a child or loved one, a wave comes in much harder and higher, and it hits your legs mid-shin. It doesn’t knock you over, but it causes you to get a little off balance… not to mention the sand that seems to be sinking under your feet. As the tide rises, the waves get a little bigger and the water a little deeper. Before you know it the water hits you in the waist and knocks you over. The next wave may go over your head. But stand there long enough and the tide will eventually recede, and the water will once again barely hit your toes. 

Like the ocean, waves of grief come and go. At first it feels like the waves are crashing over your head, but then, eventually, the grief begins to recede. The grief will most likely rise again in some form or fashion, but enjoying the calm and being thankful for the times when grief isn’t too bad is an important part of the healing process. It’s easy to feel guilty for “being ok,” but it’s a positive thing when you make progress after a devastating loss or difficult experience. And everyone will experience the waves of grief in a different way.

I realized something this past week that I think is an important part of my healing process. I was walking and talking to God about how I was feeling. I haven’t been as devastated as I have in previous weeks and I wasn’t sure why. I am still sad and wish things were different. But, I believe the grief has receded for the moment. I’ve begun to accept Andrew’s death and realized that being devastated isn’t going to change anything. So, the debilitating tears and emotions have subsided, for the time being at least. 

As a Christian believer, I also remind myself that if I truly believe what I say I believe (and I do!), then Andrew is in a place we all long to be. He is praising a Heavenly Father every second of every day and experiencing no pain or suffering. I can’t even wrap my human brain around how wonderful his little life is now. As I try to imagine what he must be experiencing I know that my loss is his gain… and there is nothing devastating about that. As a mother, I would put the happiness of my children before my own happiness any day of the week. It sure is amazing that we’ve been given the greatest gift by our Savior, Jesus Christ. He made a way for us so we can spend an eternity in Heaven once we leave this earth, just like Andrew!

I wish I could plan for the waves … but I remind myself daily that I just have to ride the waves out and trust that God is in control!