Grief is a stone I keep in my pocket
It was rough and jagged when I found it,
And I can’t count the times I’ve scraped my knuckles
While carelessly digging around for something else.
But I took it out today—just for a look—
And marveled at how easily I could run my thumb
Along edges worn smooth by keys and coins.
This is a weight I will always carry with me
And I still bruise my fingers unexpectedly,
Yet now I find I can stick in my hand to hold it
Without a fear of getting cut.
A few years back, I joined a community choir for a season, and in one of our concerts we sang the beautifully moving song Finlandia. (I may have cried during practice a time or two.) But if I hummed the song for you, you’d probably recognize it as the tune for the hymn Be Still, My Soul. I cannot sing this hymn now without remembering the many voices raised with mine, the incredible orchestral accompaniment, and the overflowing feelings in my heart.
I love the message found in this hymn: We must patiently bear our grief—we don’t know how long it will take—but we do not have to bear it alone. And in the end, the pain will pass and joy will be restored.
Just over three years ago, I lost my sister to depression and suicide. Since then, I have cycled though the stages of grief many times. I have been numb, I have felt angry, I have been confused, I have mourned her lost potential, I have peacefully accepted her passing, and I often remember her joyfully… and then I’ve gotten angry or sad or numb again. Early on, there were times I found myself forgetting and laughing over something trivial, and then feeling guilty that I hadn’t remained in my mournful state.
But here is something I’ve learned: humans are not made to feel only one thing. And we are definitely not meant to remain sad forever—our Father created us as creatures of joy!
I think one of the beautiful gifts of this life is the principle of opposites. A pinch of salt makes cookies taste better, and on a grander scale, a season of grief makes the promise of reunification even sweeter.
Like the many voices that sang with me in that choir, there are those standing with and around us who have felt what we are going through. I know that my own empathy towards others has increased as I have learned to bear my grief with patience. And who understands us better than our Savior, who bore all things in order to succor us?
He is that “Heav’nly Friend” that leads us through thorny ways. He is the reason my heart comes into my throat when I sing Joy to the World, or feel like shouting during the Hallelujah Chorus. He is the Prince of Peace, and I find my peace and joy in Him.