Grief is a journey. A most-difficult, heart-wrenching, gut-churning journey. It's not a place you
would ask to go, but everyone who has ever loved someone will make this journey at some point
in their life. The ticket to this journey is "Loss".  If you love someone and lose someone, your
ticket to grief is guaranteed.

There is no preparation for this journey. We all enter into it the first time completely unprepared.
There is no "Death 101" to ready us for this trip, and even when we've spent months or years
watching a loved one's health deteriorate, thinking we're ready for the finality of their death ...
we're not.

The GOOD news is that you CAN get through this. Even though your world has crumbled, there
IS hope. Although you may not think so right now, there will come a day when you fill find a smile
on your face again, and joy in your heart. God promised!  And I can also tell you that this is true
because I've been to the bottom of this merciless pit ~ and survived. You can too!

So how does one go from "just-beginning-all-consuming-grief" to "get-on-with-your-life-grief"?  I
call it a journey of the hands. No, not the hands of a clock or any other time piece.  Real hands.
Although everyone goes through grief in their own personal way, feeling those strong emotions
at different times and in different intensities, there will still be some major similarities between
your grief and mine, especially in the hands.

So, where are your hands right now?

When I first began my journey through grief, my hands were clenching tissues and wiping the
tears from my eyes or clenching my pillow as I buried my face into it to hide the tears. I call this
the clenching hands phase. This is normal.

As the finality of my loss became a reality, my hands became fists of anger and rage. Yes, I was
angry! I wasn't ready for this, and I wasn't through with my loved one. I wanted them here a lot
longer than they were allowed to stay. The unfairness of it all infuriated me. I call this the fisted
hands phase. This is normal.

Over time, I spent most of my time wringing my hands in despair. I didn't know what to do or
where to turn. My life had turned upside down and I was completely lost in a foreign world, a
world without my loved one. On top of the grief, I was also facing so many life-changes now in
my loved ones absence. All at a time when I was in the worst emotional state to be making these
kinds of decisions. I call this the wringing hands phase. This is normal.

From there, these two hands became reaching hands, reaching for anyone and anything that
could make the pain go away or even lessen it one iota. Different people go to different
measures, some more desperate than others, to try to lessen the pain. Some drown their pain in
alcohol or drugs, others busy themselves with anything that stops them from thinking about their
grief:  travel, books, hobbies, work, shopping.  It's not so much that we're trying to hide from our
grief as it is trying to just find a little relief from the grief. I call this the reaching hands phase.
This is normal.

All of these phases of my own grief may sound very similar to yours. Each is perfectly normal,
and it's also perfectly normal for these phases to repeat themselves, weaving in and out of your
life over time as you find the best way to come to terms with your own personal grief.

In my case, it became a vicious cycle until I finally discovered the correct things to do with my
hands. I call it the helping hands phase.  Something inside of me made me finally realize that I
couldn't get through my grief alone. It was outside of my power to survive this on my own. The
pain was too intense and I was too unprepared. Even reading everything I could find on grief, it
didn't make the pain any less.

First, I reached out to friends and relatives. But even close friends and family can't give you a
helping hand that will make the pain bearable. Then, I realized that God had given me two of the
greatest helping hands, my own!

Finally, putting these two hands to proper use, I began to recover from the pain and find peace
in my grief. I simply got down on my knees and pressed these two hands of mine together and
began to pray, fervently, to a God who hears my every cry. Building a close bond with the Lord
formed by many prayers and spending much time in His presence, listening for His small still
voice to soothe my heart, finally brought peace back into my soul.

He taught me how to lift my hands and give my burdens to Him, allowing Him to handle the
things I was incapable of handling, and allowing Him to be my strength to get me through each
day.

He taught me how to live again, a life where He is in complete control. This is not the same life I
had before grief entered the picture. I am not the same me I was before losing my loved one.
Yes, I may still look the same on the outside (pretty much anyway), but my heart has changed. It
was broken and He has mended it. It was empty and He has filled it. It was bitter and He has
cleansed it. It was hurt and he has healed it. It was angry and He has tempered it. It was filled
with turmoil and He brought it peace. And it all started by using my own two hands, pressed
together in earnest prayer.

So, I ask again, where are your hands right now? Which hand-phase are you in along your
journey?  Although each phase may weave through your life as your continue your journey
through grief, you can take a MAJOR shortcut. Take the trip to the last phase – the helping
hands phase, and put your hands together in prayer. It will make the rest of the trip much more
bearable and you WILL find peace. God promised.

May God truly bless you and bring you peace.
A Journey of the Hands
© Ferna Lary Mills


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