This is Grief.

This is grief.

The pretending to be okay in the open, and the tucking away to weep in secret.

I feel like God’s been challenging me to post this for a while, so I’m fearfully accepting His challenge.

It’s been four months since my sister died. Even typing the word “died” brings tears. I’ve become a part of a club—called the “People Who’ve Lost Siblings”—that I never wanted to be a part of, or, frankly, ever thought I would be. When you or a loved one is fighting sickness, you never let your mind go there—to the place that means the disease has taken them away from you. You are fighting. Believing. Hoping. Striving. Praying.

Then. They’re gone. As fast as a flash of lightning, except it’s not beautiful to look at from a distance. It’s a flash that strikes you down. Paralyzes you. Deadens you to the world.

Then you stand up and everything is different.

And I’m learning what I knew, or thought I did, about grief wasn’t true at all. Grief was, supposedly, stages one goes through, tackling each like you would a checklist. Grief was a logical process that sense. And upon completion of the to-do list, you’d be better, healed, back again to your normal self.

But those stages? They don’t happen in a clean and tidy format. My emotions are all over the place. They aren’t logical or even accurate. They don’t make sense and can change in the span of a good cry, but they are very real.

Here’s what’s really happening:

I feel conflicting guilt because…

  • I didn’t do enough to help her get better.
  • I did too much, pushing her to “get better” (therapies).
  • I wasn’t a good big sister.
  • I didn’t enjoy her like I should have for thirty years.
  • I have days I cry only a little.
  • I have days a cry a lot at the expense of taking care of my family.

I feel anger toward

  • God, because He took her away, let her suffer for two-plus years, and because of the pain I see my loved ones going through.
  • myself, because I couldn’t save her.
  • people I thought would be there for me and aren’t (likely because they don’t know what to say, or because I’m just a good faker—again, these thoughts aren’t logical or even accurate.)

I feel disappointed

  • by God.
  • by life.
  • by the doctors who couldn’t save her, and possibly gave us wrong courses of action.

But most of all, I feel utter SADNESS. A deep ache. I now understand the “hole in your heart” saying, because it’s there, and I’m sure it will remain forever.

I’ve had one day so far that I didn’t cry (on a family vacation over New Year’s), and I know those days will happen more and more, but for now…

When you ask if I’m okay, I’ll still answer that I am.

But what I really mean is:

  • No, but I’m working on it.
  • Right now, yes.
  • Better than yesterday.
  • I’m a mess of emotions actually.
  • I don’t want to talk about it.
  • I’m okay, but I’ll never be the same.

Psalm 58:6

I write all this in hopes letting it out will make me feel better and that, maybe, some of you feel the same way. I know many who’ve lost a family member and pray you, too, survive this weird thing called grief. And maybe, together, we can join forces and pray for one another, because even though I’m angry, disappointed, and sad, I do know God is there. Listening. Comforting. Healing. His Word tells us He collects our tears in His bottle (Psalm 58:6). Hopefully, they’re saved in order to make a waterfall of comfort, joy, and peace come our way as we wait patiently for His help.

Cheers to 2021. It has to be better, right?

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Kristen Terrette, color headshot 2, 2020

About Kristen Terrette

Kristen’s passionate about storytelling and helping people take their next steps in their relationship with Jesus. She lives forty-five minutes outside of Atlanta, GA. where she served as a Children’s Ministry Director for many years. With the support of her husband and two children, she now stays home writing fiction and non-fiction. She also serves on the women’s leadership team at her local church and writes for Crosswalk, Sharing Our Stories, and Wholly Loved Ministries. You can find links to all her articles on her ministry page or click here.

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