There can be grace in grief.
The holidays can be doubly difficult if someone has experienced the recent loss of a loved one.
Enough tears can be shed to possibly brine a Thanksgiving turkey.
I think most of you know that despite my desperate pleas for prayer I did not make it to my grandmother’s side before she passed away. This could be a prime opportunity for guilt in addition to grief. But I have decided not to invite that notion in to live and fester within my heart.
My grandmother was a nurse for over 60 years of her life. She saw multiple generations experience the circle of life and death. Death is not always easy. It can be quite the struggle. My grandmother had seen this firsthand and in all honesty, even though she knew I was coming, she was probably a caring nurse right up until the end and wanted to shield her loved ones from viewing what could possibly be a difficult passage.
My grandmother lived in a town of 903 people. She was active in her church and community. Everywhere I went last week people I did not know had lovely memories and happy stories to share about my grandmother.
People were eager to help me. Be it my grandmothers minister, her neighbors or former coworkers. It’s not lost on me that every single sympathy card I have received thus far has been from a stranger.
I had the opportunity to really get to know family members who, up until this point, I had no idea who they were as people. Seeds of relationships were planted and are budding.
It was so inspirational to me, as I was cleaning out her home, to find several projects she had in the works. Yarn to knit caps for Honduran orphans, a doll she was repairing for a friend and notes to me scattered throughout the home.
Yes, there were moments this past week that I let grace allude me. I became overwhelmed when I discovered no less than six piles of dirty laundry that had been created while I was gone. To have this chore on top of shopping for, decorating and preparing Thanksgiving dinner on short notice made me….ungrateful. Surly even. Then I remembered the last load of laundry I had done at my grandmother’s. Burying my head deep into her soft shirts to experience her smell one last time…
So yes, I decided to rejoice in dirty socks. Which truly can only be GRACE.
Goodness can shine though even in grief. Like all things it is merely our choice to choose to see the good and embrace the grace.
This is from one of my favorite advent sites.
“As we begin Advent, we light one candle in the midst of all the darkness in our lives and in the world. It symbolizes our longing, our desire, our hope. Three “advents” or “comings” shape our desire. We want to be renewed in a sense that Jesus came to save us from our sin and death. We want to experience His coming to us now, in our everyday lives, to help us live our lives with meaning and purpose. And we want to prepare for His coming to meet us at the end of our lives on this earth.”
So, we begin with our longing, our desire and our HOPE.
“When we wake up, each day this week, we could light that candle, just by taking a few moments to focus. We could pause for a minute at the side of our bed, or while putting on our slippers or our robe, and light an inner candle. Who among us doesn't have time to pause for a moment? “
Each evening we could each find our own way to pray something like this:
“Oh, Lord, be with us now as we gather around this wreath. As we light these candles, may this time together open our eyes to see your love in our lives and in the love we share for each other. Help us to be grateful for all of the ways you shine a light in the darkness of our hearts. Let us feel that love from you and be grateful for it. Open our hearts to those who have so much less than we do; those whose lives are so full of pain that they cannot see the light of your love. Show us how to carry that light to other people. Amen.”
You can also find prayers for singles, couples and those who are widowed HERE.
As I light the first candle of Advent, which represents HOPE, this evening at dinner and throughout the week I will be thankful for God’s unending grace.