By reading the title you maybe thinking I’m talking about the grief leading up to Jesus’s death and when he died. While I do think about that leading up to Easter, I’m actually referring to my personal grief of how hard Easter is when you’ve lost someone. I was never aware of this feeling or that Easter would be hard. I usually don’t talk about it because I used to think it was so bad that I had these feelings like questioning God when we are celebrating the resurrection of Jesus. Each Easter this happens and I feel like each year I hold it in more it gets so much harder. I’m here to write about how hard Easter is for me and if you too are grieving and have these feelings please know you aren’t alone.
On November 8, 2013 is when my life changed forever. I found my Dad in the yard he was raking leaves. I vividly remember when I saw his face I knew he was gone and I remember saying “God please bring him back” over and over. At one point this feeling got so heavy I couldn’t stand up I was saying out loud how are we going to do this God without him please bring him back. I kept pleading even when he was in the ambulance for almost an hour. I knew but when I saw the EMT’s come out of the ambulance I knew he was gone. I remember feeling WHY God why. I couldn’t understand it. Our Pastor helped us with saying something similar to this, God didn’t wake up that day and say hey I’m going to take Randy home today. Remember God doesn’t want to cause any pain. Instead God knew the events of the day. He was there to welcome my Dad into heaven and God was there to comfort me. I had some days where I was upset with God but that started settling down a lot. Then the first Easter came around. I think I cried the entire church service. I couldn’t sing the words “up from the grave he arose”, I kept thinking why couldn’t my Dad have come back. Then the next few Easters came and here we are 6 years later.
The other day I finally found a way to describe grief that made so much sense to me. I’ve heard this saying so many times “grief is like an ocean it’s always there but comes in heavy waves sometimes” which made sense to me because it was true. Yesterday I connected that for me grief is like the chronic pain/illnesses I deal with. I know it’s different things and grief doesn’t cause things to happen to my body like my illnesses do. However I view grief as a chronic pain. It’s always hurting every single day. Similar to chronic pain, grief can “flare-up”. This week I had a “flare-up” of grief. I missed Dad horribly and I knew Easter was coming. I’m going to do my best to explain the feelings I’ve had. This is so hard to type because it feels so incredibly selfish and I feel like a “bad” Christian because why can’t I fully enjoy Easter? This is one of the best days ever. Jesus is risen! How He went through all that pain so that our sins could be forgiven. That kind of love is so big so what kind of person am I that I can’t get it together. I started realizing it’s ok that I feel this way. Do I like feeling these thoughts on Easter? No, but those are my feelings and as my counselor has kept telling me I need to lean into the feelings or it’s not going to get resolved. I leaned in this Easter. I couldn’t understand why Dad couldn’t have come back to life. Hearing all the stories of Jesus coming back to life is hard. I think it’s hard because here on Earth I know that my Dad can’t be brought back. It’s just so final.
I had painted one of our windows (picture at the end of the blog) with a cross and rainbow with the words hope written underneath it. On Friday Jesus had died. I kept wondering how those people felt. Did they have hope? What were they feeling on Saturday? Were they possibly thinking the same thoughts I was? “Bring him back”? On Sunday the tomb was empty and he had risen!
My counselor has been teaching me strategies to cope with depression, anxiety, grief. So yesterday (Easter) I did one of the coping skills. “I am here and I am noticing that I’m having the thought ____”
So I said “I am here and I am noticing that I’m having the thought that Easter is hard right now because of Dad’s death.” I then went through the exercises and got to the point where the thought was “detached” from me which is the goal of this skill. I was then able to process my Dad obviously isn’t risen but I will be together with my Dad someday. My Dad is dead and I can’t change that fact. The point of these coping skills isn’t to say it’s bad to feel this so do this. It’s noticing that you’re having trouble with a thought or feeling and you aren’t thinking rational. So through this exercise I was able to start thinking rationally again. I know my Dad can’t be risen like Jesus was and I said it’s okay that I felt that way – I was able to process it and realize what I was thinking wasn’t actually very rational.
So if you’re struggling during Easter too I’m not saying do this and all the sad feelings will go away. My counselor has taught me things that work for me. Grief is hard and if you’ve had similar thoughts during Easter know you aren’t alone and it’s okay that you feel that way. God loves us so much!
“Peace I leave with you My peace I give unto you … let your heart not be troubled.” – John 14:27