“You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy” (John 16:20b).
Did you know that grief is a very important process as we travel this road of a chronic disease? It doesn’t just happen once, sometimes we have to grieve over and over with each new setback.
Parade Magazine (Oct. 27, 2013) lists what grief looks like: “aimlessly staring out windows, ignoring phone calls, forgetting appointments or just plain forgetfulness, sleeping too little or too much, crying.” I would add anger, depression, listlessness, and sorrow.
Actually, we never stop grieving, but the profound pain lessens with time. My minister said a few Sundays ago, “Grieving is woven into the fabric of whom we are. The result is often our being able to reach out to others who are suffering because we’ve been there.” Certainly those of us with a chronic disease know how true this is.
Not only is there heart-wrenching grief over present circumstances, but there is anticipatory grief that sneaks up on us. What will happen to me in the future, how will this disease progress, what if something happens to my caregiver?
I find that I grieve over not being able to keep a commitment, missing out on activities I’m looking forward to, my once robust health, missing many church services, and loss of being able to plan my days–for I’m a chronic planner. I become extremely vulnerable.
I have learned that denying grief only causes it to mushroom. Grief has no time table, but if you feel you are stuck, please seek professional help. We need to allow the feelings and realize that they are not unspiritual but necessary.
In Successful Living With Chronic Illness, Celebrating the Joys of Life, Kathleen Lewis writes, “Ultimately, grieving my losses served as a bridge allowing me to celebrate my todays to the fullest.” God bless you as you go beyond grief to God’s transforming grace. He will cause us to dance with abandon as we move toward emotional wholeness.
Prayer: Thank You that although You are with us in the grief stage, Your ultimate desire for us is life, healing and joy. Amen.
About the author:
Jackie Smith is from Knoxville, TN near the beautiful Smoky Mountains. She struggles with Sjogren’s Disease and migraine headaches. Jackie is grateful to be a 25-year survivor of a bilateral mastectomy. A few years ago she had her colon removed, necessitating an ileostomy. She received her master’s degree in Child and Family Services. While she has never been able to work using her degree, it’s been an asset with her husband, 5 children and 12 grandchildren. Her writing about God’s exuberant love is one of her greatest joys.
Do you know that stages of grief are necessary, but God ultimately takes that grief and changes it to a life-giving present tailored made just for you?
We will all go through grief. If you have a chronic illness, odds are you have had your share and then some. But as Jackie shares above, it doesn’t have to define you. In this song Mandisa sings “He is With You” and she sings of the verse in Ecclesiastes about how there is a time for it all. I hope you like it. It’s one of my favorites. -Lisa