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A Journey of Grief

This is a guest post from my friend Blake Blackman. I met Blake a few years ago, at the beginning of what would turn out to be one the roughest chapters of my life. Her words about loss and moving forward resonate deeply with me today as I continue to carry my own grief into another winter season. 

Everyday. Everyday I think about the son I lost.

I think of how getting pregnant without meaning to when I was twenty changed the entire trajectory of my life. I wonder how my life might have been different if I hadn’t had a hysterectomy, or if my husband hadn’t decided he couldn’t bear the weight of all our sorrow and left.

But all of that did happen, and I can’t change a single bit of it. Since 1998, I have been in a very intimate relationship with grief. I want the grief that so often overtakes my insides to magically heal. I want to take the ashes of a life full of what ifs and if onlys and how comes and place them in a little box. Then, I want to take that box to a mountaintop, open it wide, and let the wind whisk all those hurts far away from me. There they can swirl around in the heavens for time eternal and never curse another life ever again.

But none of that ever does happen. I carry the grief with me wherever I go.

For years, I allowed that grief to eat me alive, turning my heart more and more black and bitter. All the while, I blamed God for all of it and I hated him. I was convinced each of us were puppets to his puppet master, living out desperate lives merely for his entertainment.

I wish it didn’t take so long to move from the depths of our despair to a place where we can say life is good again. But it always does. 

It takes years of toiling in the trenches, and it’s only if we’re lucky that we reach the bottom of who we really are. It’s only if we’re willing to fight and believe there is something on the other side of total nothingness that we climb out of the trench, dirty and sweaty and tired, but with hope there is more for us than a heart turned black.

Last year, I left the church where I fell in love with Jesus. I had been a part of that tribe of people for eight years and on staff with them for four. Years after my son died and my husband left, Jesus beautifully interrupted my life. The people of my church came alongside me and helped me to see a God other than the puppet master I had contrived in my mind. They showed me a God of grace, redemption, and unconditional love. They taught me he could be trusted because they could be trusted with my brokenness and my suffering. Eventually, my dark black heart began to turn to light. During this new season of grief, I wasn’t willing to go back to the black-hearted woman I was before. I was intent on remaining in the light.

Grief is undeniably hard to talk about, and it can be infinitely harder to carry.

It almost feels taboo in our culture. Even as someone who has lost much, I can find myself shrinking away from those who are wrestling in the trenches of their own hurts. I don’t have all the answers or the perfect words. Often we feel alone in our sadness and that isolation can turn to shame or guilt. It did for me. Even though I was hurting, the guilt of not being able to move on plagued me. Sometimes being on the receiving end of such a tough life filled me with shame.

So, last spring, when life became impossibly difficult to manage once again, I had no idea what to do. During a particularly dark night of the soul, drenched with gallons of tears, I heard the Lord simply ask me to write. I had never written anything of substance before and the thought of it scared me to death. Facing our demons or our own pasts can be terrifying, but I chose to stare my grief down and forbid it to overtake my light heart. The result was The Journey of the Black Heart, a book that is the gift of all my heartbreak.

Writing The Journey of the Black Heart wasn’t easy, but I pray it will be a reminder that God redeems all things. I know now that I could climb to the highest mountaintop, release the remnants of my pain, and it will all just settle back inside me eventually. I take my grief with me wherever I go, forever and ever. But now I don’t carry it alone. Telling my story hasn’t been easy, but it has been absolutely worth it.

And believe me, whatever it is you’re grieving, there will come a day you love your life again. I promise.

The Journey of the Black Heart

[ order on amazon ]

published December 3, 2015

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