Hurricane Matthew is wreaking havoc off the coast of Florida as I write this. It provides an interesting parallel because at the same exact time Hurricane Grief has ripped through our family this week. Just like the oceanic beast, this has been one of the strongest storms to make landfall in our home. But with grief, the protective shutters we tried to use to prevent damage proved futile. The best we could do was buckle up and pray the damage would be repairable.
This week all the pent-up emotions of all the people living here exploded all at once. It seemed like a normal Wednesday at first. Everyone arrived home from school, scattered backpacks and shoes to and fro and began devouring all of the food in the house. I reminded everyone we’d be eating dinner at church in an hour and to stop all of the eating of all of the things. No one listened. I ignored it, choosing my battles.
An hour passed and it was time to start getting ready to leave for church. I calmly asked everyone to turn off the TV and to get shoes on. No one listened. I waited five more minutes and calmly told them again, this time reminding them we would need to leave soon or we would be late. No one listened.
And this is where Hurricane Grief made landfall. GET YOUR SHOES ON NOW!! WHY DON’T YOU LISTEN TO ME?! The preteen fought back with sass and the youngest panicked because he couldn’t find his shoes. Pretzels spilled to the floor, I yelled some more and then started to cry, the chronically lost shoe boy started to cry and the hormonal preteen started to yell. Baton down the hatches, we’re about to lose the roof.
What followed was too terrible to recount. It involved lots of bawling, lots of yelling out fears, anxieties, stress and all the other emotions that had absolutely nothing to do with lost shoes or spilled pretzels. It had everything to do with each one of us trying to hold it all together for too long. That’s the thing with emotions; with grief. See what happens when you try to hold it in? See what happens when you ignore the powerful storm swirling off the coast as if it doesn’t exist? Massive destruction, broken feelings, shattered hearts and regret.
It was not my finest hour as a parent or as a person, really. It wasn’t my children’s finest hour either. But here’s the important part: We survived. We surveyed the damage, regrouped, cried some more, talked, prayed, cried again and ended with sharing what we love about each other, a group hug and lavender oil baths. We survived. We survived because we are still a family. We are a bit tattered and torn from the wind and the waves, but we rode out that storm. We didn’t make it to church, but we survived the storm.
If there’s an emotional Hurricane Grief building momentum in your life, I want to encourage you to remember who to turn to. He won’t let you drown. He can calm our storms.
23 Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him.
24 Suddenly a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. 25 The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Lord, save us! We’re going to drown!”
26 He replied, “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.
27 The men were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”
— Matthew 8:23-27 (NIV)