Recycled Grief

Today is hallowed in our home. Unlike most calendar days, February 2 isn’t measured by appointments or to-do lists but by memories both sweet and sorrowful. A holy ground where life and death, pain and peace, coexist under in a weighted blanket called grief. Since saying hello and goodbye to our son Carter on February 2, 2011, I approach this day with the same strange mix of anticipation and foreboding.

How will grief show up?

While I can count on grief to be present, it never looks the same. Every February, grief comes anew—recycled and repackaged.

Some years, it has been small and compact, easily managed as we celebrate Carter’s life through rituals our family has established. Other years, the grief has been large and looming, a crushing weight that leaves me raw and listless. We have both surrounded ourselves with loved ones and escaped. We’ve been silent and stoic, wild and weeping.

But no matter what form grief takes, it’s always there.

I’m learning to just let it come. Ben and I have stopped trying to put expectations on the day or determine how we should feel. In fact, we try to take the word should out of our vocabulary altogether. Grief is what it is—unpredictable and always changing, with the power to both hurt and heal. But it is not to be escaped.

Grief may stop us in our tracks, but in it we find rare moments to peal back the curtain and peak at what’s happening behind the scenes. Because where there is grief, there is love. Where there is hurting, there is healing. And when we lift up our eyes to see God through the haze, we discover that His grace is abundant even in our greatest pain.

So let grief come. Let it wash over us and remind us of our love and just how loved we are.

“Grief is neither a disorder nor a healing process; it is a sign of health itself,
a whole and natural gesture of love. Nor must we see grief as step towards something better.
No matter how much it hurts—and it may be the greatest pain in life—grief can be an end in itself, a pure expression of love.” – Gerald May, psychologist & theologian,
as quoted in Dying Well by Dr. Ira Byock

Blog originally published on February 2, 2017 on