November 11th started off as a good day. My husband, Matt, had the day off for veteran’s day and I had a fun day planned for us. Breakfast out and shopping – what more could a girl ask for? While we were out for breakfast I explained to Matt my plan for the next couple days.
“I have about four more hours of work to polish up the last of my book proposal,” I said between bites of french toast. “I should be all done and have it ready to send out on Monday! I’ll announce my website on my socials next week. I’m so excited to get started!”
Just a few hours later, everything changed.
We received word that a dear friend of mine passed away unexpectedly.
My heart shattered – for her husband, her kids, her mom, and siblings, he students, her friends, and for myself. What a significant loss for so many people!
Time stood still for days, even though the world kept turning somehow. I was honored to give the eulogy at my friend’s funeral. The days between her passing in her funeral were a blur.
My natural reaction when sorrow overwhelms me, is to freeze. Just stop doing life. Sometimes I stay in bed, watching nature documentaries, and other times I try to sort out my feelings. But either way, I want to put life on hold indefinitly.
Honestly, the loss of this beautiful life deserves the world to come to a screaching halt.
The truth is there are times when that is what we should do. Pause. Slow down and allow ourselves to feel however we feel. The timeline of the “life on hold” stage is different for each individual, and different for each loss.
However, as we start to step forward after loss, even with the smallest of shuffles into the future, we need to recognize that joy is still present in the midst of grief.
The day after my friend’s funeral, we shared a night of tears and even some laughter with my friend’s husband and children. We told stories of her life, and gave countless hugs.
Part of what makes grief so complex is that loss does not take place in a vacuum. Time keeps moving, even if we are not ready for it. And we can experience laughter and smiles while simaltaniously wiping unending tears.
There can be celebration and sorrow all melted into one moment.
For me, it’s tempting to keep life “on hold” when I experience loss, long after it’s healthy to do so. But what if instead I embraced the beauty of joy and sorrow together? What if I learned to hold on to both? And to cherish the happy-heartbreaking moments for the treasure they are?
So here I am shuffling back into the writing journey God has called me to. Not because this loss was not significant, but because I can continue to grieve while I obey God’s call. And I pray that through my writing, God will bring hope and healing to those who have experienced hardships or loss.
Instead of putting life on hold, I will work to hold on to both joy and sorrow.