What could I say about grief? Or arduous suffering? That there is a guaranteed end in sight?
Maybe…. But what I do know is through close to 3 years of grieving infertility, my heart begins to feel sort of like a canvas. It’s often dashed with dark, foreboding grays with deep hues of black, blues, and brown. And other times there are traces of vibrant watercolors, intermixed into a beautiful symphony of color. My point?
Grief is not strictly black and white.
I’ll never forget the advice my counselor gave me after our IVF attempt failed and we had already poured so much time and money into fertility treatments and I was newly diagnosed with Celiac disease. She said, “Rachel, you aren’t betraying your grief when you don’t feel sad, angry, or upset 24 hours a day. In fact, you are honoring it by allowing yourself the freedom to feel how you want to feel in that moment. It doesn’t mean the pain isn’t still there. You may begin to feel the pain 23 hours a day, then slowly for 22 hours a day, then 17, then 6, etc, etc.” In that moment, I felt such freedom. I had told myself for months, it seemed, that I had to be miserable constantly because an integral part of my heart and my life still hadn’t happened.
Then I realized that although my canvas may have the background of dark blues, grays, blacks, it wasn’t the entire picture of our story.
But let me preface that statement with this. There are times, days that turn into weeks, where I have a hard time not weeping to a friend or family member or even a complete stranger (yes, that has happened. And no, I’m not proud of it.) Where the thought of going out in public sounds like personal torture. Where I physically curl up into the fetal position or where I cry so hard that the tears just stop coming.
So yes, there are days and months where the grief doesn’t have a suffocating grip on my heart, but there are also times that I feel completely stuck. Caged, if you will. Like a hamster on a wheel, where the same scenario of hurt is reopened month after month when we realize we are again “not pregnant.” Yet somehow and some way, I manage to wake up anew, persevering with my blessings of a happy and healthy son and husband.
This canvas of life is ever changing, grief or no grief. But what I hope to convey to you, reader, is that just because you are a going through a difficult season or what I like to call “stuck in the middle of a desert for years on end without the faintest idea if you’ll ever get water again,” you get to still find happiness.
You can tell grief to take a backseat, even if it’s for a split second. You can be reminded that you are still who you are, despite the most challenging or unfair circumstances. You can seek out new opportunities or challenges that you may have never considered before, had you not been put into your current situation. (Which let’s be honest…. I beg God daily to take these “new experiences” away at any given moment so I can have that one longed, intensely desired thing: another tiny human.)
Still, the best advice I could possibly give anyone grieving, is to turn to God more. Turn to Him for every little thing and see if and how it can soften your heart. Even a teeny, tiny, itsy bit. I’m not here to preach about how or why God is putting you or I in this current situation, because I truthfully have not the faintest, flying clue! But what I do know is that He’s there. Always. And he offered His people quite a bit of support throughout the Bible, which is cool because it can also apply to today. So try cracking open the Bible, or buy an inspirational book that integrates the stories in the Bible to remind you of how God spoke and still speaks through His word today.
Since I’m not the best about just opening the Bible without a little prompting, check out one of my very favorite books about faith and the “waiting season.” When God Says “Wait”
So friends, as you struggle through your desert, be reminded you are not alone. This canvas is not complete. And you can splash as much color or shine on it as you want.