|When Grief Is Like An Ocean
(And You're In A Tsunami)
© Ferna Lary Mills
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|Love one another ~ John 15:12
Pray for one another ~ James 5:15
Encourage one another ~ Hebrews 3:13
Comfort one another ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:18
Life After Loss
Grief is tuff enough when it just comes in ones. When we lose a loved one, the grief seems
unbearable, but when it's followed by one loss after another, how do we cope? How do we
stand the tide of grief when it seems like an all-consuming tsunami?
Whether you've lost one loved one or many does not change grief. Grief is grief. It isn't
measured in ounces and pounds, nor days and years. It isn't something that's been added to
your life that can be measured. It's something that has been taken away. It's a hole in your
soul, a void in your life, (no matter how many losses), and it's the "loss" that causes the
No matter how many losses, or how deep your ocean, you still must cope one wave at a time.
Grief, in and of itself, isn't something that will come, last a period of time, then go away. It's like
an ocean, sorrow coming in like waves, then receding and coming back when you're not
watching, hitting you full force in the back, or slamming you straight in the face. Then, it
recedes again. You take it one wave at a time. Eventually, the tide will go out and the waves
won't be so high, nor the current so swift. But the ocean will always be there.
After losing both of my parents in a 10-month span, I learned that there were days when I
missed Mom the most, and there were times when I missed Dad the most. There are still
moments when I grieve for them both, even after all these years. But rather than take my grief
and post it on a calendar, marking time, I take it one wave at a time. When grief washes over
me, I ride it out with prayer and remembrance of tears of joy when they were here with me. After
a "time", the wave of grief recedes and I go on, until the next wave comes. After so much time
has passed, the waves are gentler, kinder, and less frequent, but they are still there.
Multiple losses may result in multiple waves, but they are still waves and will rise and fall in
time. But multiple losses may make you feel like your ocean is deeper and your waves are
higher. You may not fully recover from the crash of one, before the next one hits while you
struggle to maintain your footing and catch your next breath.
You may feel like you're in a full-blown tsunami and there is no escape. So what do you do
You tread water.
Webster's Dictionary gives the definition of treading water as "to keep one's head above water
while in an upright position by moving the feet up and down".
This means that you don't stop. You keep moving, even if it's just placing one foot in front of the
other, one step at a time. If you're surrounded by an ocean of grief and you stop moving, you
will sink and drown. Keep going, taking things one step at a time, or one moment at a time, or
one wave at a time, but keep going.
Remain in an upright position with your face pointed skyward. That's where air is. That's where
prayer is. That's where God is. If you keep your focus on Him, He will never let you drown. He
will lift you up when you feel like you haven't one ounce of strength left to keep your feet
moving. He can help you "walk" on the water of your ocean.
Keep your eyes on God and He will be your strength. Also, with your focus on Him instead of
on your grief, you will begin to see things from His eternal perspective. You will discover a
peace in knowing that your loved ones have not simply ceased to exist, they only ceased to
exist in your current world. But they ARE still alive, and living with Him.
The Bible gives us God's promises that death of the body is NOT death of the spirit, and there
will come a time (of God's appointment) that we will be reunited with our loved ones again.
Keep His eternal perspective in your focus and you will find the waters receding, the grief
subsiding to a tolerable level, and He will show you the purpose for your still being here.
The following is a poem I wrote after the death of my parents. I hope it helps. May God bless
you and bring you peace. ~ Ferna
An Ocean of Grief
© Ferna Lary Mills
I cautiously watch the water as it moves along the shore
creeping closer to the sand around my feet.
Beyond the crashing waves, where the water is deepest green
the ocean mirrors the depths of my grief.
My grief is like the ocean, sorrow coming in like waves,
sometimes gentle like a ripple on the sea.
Other times it just engulfs me with crushing waves of sadness
and undertows of despair pull down on me.
Some days I wade out in it, splashing memories with my feet,
recalling days of sunshine on my face.
Stepping through the foamy edges never venturing out so far
that larger waves can threaten their embrace.
Then when I least expect it this freak of nature soaks me
in reality so painful that I fall.
The sorrow and the anger that I've fought with day to day
surge through me in a tidal free-for-all.
One day when I'm much stronger and my grief is not so new
I'll swim just like I used to do before.
I'll take pleasure in the memories,
and tread water in those places
that we can't share together anymore.
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