Advent Grief: Finding Hope in the Midst of Memory

Advent grief defies description.

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Depending upon where we are in our grief journey, it draws us in during Advent.  A mixture of overwhelming sadness with living Hope; growing despair with gentle resolve.

Ache with joy; doubt with faith.

God with Us.

For those who embrace Advent as a season of Hope, remembering loved ones who have died somehow diminishes the light. The grief seems darker, heavier. It’s wearying.

It’s gripping.

The reason for Advent doesn’t dim. The glimmer of Love isn’t distinguished.  It’s the journey out of grief  – it feels longer, more tiring, our hearts get heavey as we struggle – further up and further in.

When the grief is new, raw, and all encompassing, the way out is elusive.

Just beyond our grasp.

Our hearts alone become our guides as we blindly feel our way with our hands, cut and bleeding – the sharp edges of grief try to snare us and prevent us from moving forward into the pain.

There is a need for darkness. A need for quiet.

There is a comfort in the darkness. Sitting in the twilight of a new day with nothing but the glimmer of Christmas lights, I shy away from the glare of the sun. There is a safety alone in the quiet with the gentle glistening.

The light of day exposes my vulnerability and forces me to deal with it.

 Get up.

 Move.

Grow.

Remember.

As if the hole in my heart could ever forget.

I want to be stagnant for a season – a day in the season, or two days, or three – like a winter bulb buried in the cold, asleep, waiting for spring. Just let me rest here a while in my grief.

As we move out of the darkness the light is often so blinding we need to move back into the darkness. Just for a while.

And adjust our hearts to what lies before us.

I don’t retreat into deep darkness anymore, but I will always have moments of darkness. I don’t want to lose them. To lose them is to lose him. To lose the moments is to lose empathy for the darkness.

He would be 26 today. My little dark haired babe who never opened his eyes. I want to see his eyes, I want to know the feel of his sweet baby breath on my face.

Today, it is what never was that shouts into the dark.

No good memories. Only the searing pain of labor which ended long ago – overshadowed by the pain of never seeing him move.

Never tiptoeing into the room just to listen to him breathe or watch him sleep.

No playing, giggling, or walking.

I’ll never see him marry, or know the love of another daughter welcomed into my life.

No baby breath.

No “mama” words.

No embrace.

No “Welcome home son. I’ve missed you.”

Instead, he will welcome me home.

Baby yet, or twenty-six, in the place that knows not time or pain.

I had a baby boy who filled the never was for a season. A grandson who tried to make his entrance on this day, and entered into the hole in my heart. 

Not so long ago.

He filled it with December wonder in the place where winter pain had rested.

He gave me a reason to celebrate this time of the year, with Happy Birthday, and December labors that ended in physical life.

He is also out of my reach these days.

Just beyond my grasp.

The pain is complicated like the complication of the labor, where the end result was unknown, and you never quite understand how you got to this place. 

Only heaven knowns the end of the beginning when eternity is in motion.

My birth was violent. Tearing. Painful. Gentleness was absent.

There was no breath of life. Sometimes I struggle to breathe now. Missing what never was, what was, and what is yet to be.

Twenty six years ago today, he was birthed out of darkness into True Light. His first breath was a breath of Life.

Two thousand years ago He was birthed out of True Light into darkness.

Jesus’ birth defies imagination. God born of woman, to become man.

The mystery of Jesus the Christ is the mystery of Christmas. The violence of the cross had already claimed Him at his birth in a great eternal Alpha and Omega. It is the time and absence of time that only the creator of all things lives in.

Birth is often violent. Death is often violent.                                                                                 Birth is often gentle. Death is often gentle.                                                                                       The constant is Christ. He suffered it all. He understands it all. He is present in it all.

This morning in the stillness He is present. The glimmering of the lights on the tree are gentle. They call me to weep. They call me to rejoice. They call me to remember. They call me to Life.

The voice of Jesus whispers to my saddened heart that the end is not yet. There is so much of eternity to live with my babe. So much Life where the Son shines without end.

I will know as I am known.

I will love as I am loved.

I will see and understand.

My hope lies in the One who is greater than me. In a purpose that is bigger than me. In a Light that is brighter than my darkened heart can handle right now.

As the sun begins to spill through the windows, the tree lights begin to fade. The Light has called me back to breathe, move, and live. There is so much life. So much to live for. So much to do.

To be.

The light in my heart grows brighter. Lit by the memory of two infants – one born dead – one born to die.

Both, very much alive. Both waiting for me.

In memories of Hope. 

Happy Birthday Micaiah James Grubb. You are loved.

You are missed. You are so very, very, very, missed.

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And regarding the question, friends that has come up about what happens to those already dead and buried, we don’t want you in the dark any longer. First off, you must not carry on over them like people who have nothing to look forward to, as if the grave were the last word. Since Jesus died and broke loose from the grave, God will most certainly bring back to life those who died in Jesus.

And then this: We can tell you with complete confidence—we have the Master’s word on it—that when the Master comes again to get us, those of us who are still alive will not get a jump on the dead and leave them behind. In actual fact, they’ll be ahead of us. The Master himself will give the command. Archangel thunder! God’s trumpet blast! He’ll come down from heaven and the dead in Christ will rise—they’ll go first. Then the rest of us who are still alive at the time will be caught up with them into the clouds to meet the Master. Oh, we’ll be walking on air! And then there will be one huge family reunion with the Master. So reassure one another with these words.   I Thessalonians 4:13-18  The Message

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