A special needs mommy who is very new to the journey asked me recently if I had grieved for Shelby. A better question might be, "when have I NOT grieved for Shelby?" As I write this I am sitting at the hospital while Shelby is in surgery to have an endometrial ablation. Although I have no doubt that it is the right thing to do - for Shelby and for Chuck and me as her caregivers, it is something else that feels very final. We have known for years that Shelby would never have a "normal" adulthood with a husband and children, but there is still a little grieving going on now that it is a done deal. It reminds me of the day Shelby's school district officially diagnosed her as mentally retarded after extensive testing. I knew she was far behind her peers academically and socially, but the label tied a very messy, ugly bow on the whole thing. I grieved (complete with a public breakdown and repeated boo-hoo sessions). I grieved when she started having seizures, when she had to have her first surgery, when she got her offical Dravet diagnosis and when she entered a very un-normal adolescence. Those are all HUGE things in her life. But you should know that I also grieve for our everyday routine that is such a challenge for her. I grieve when I hear about her peers scheduling classes to prepare them for college. One of Shelby's school goals this year is to fold wash cloths. I grieve when she has 12 seizures in one night and calls out "no, no, no". I grieve when I see my precious two year old grandson fly by her developmentally. I grieve every time she is evaluated for benefits and I have to answer questions about her health and social appropriateness. I grieve when it is time to change her diaper.
Sigh. Let me see if I can scrape myself up off the floor now and give you the good news. You see, much like Job (if you are ever feeling sorry for yourself, look up that story in the Bible), God doesn't leave me in my grief and He doesn't leave you there either. For where there is grief, there is comfort. The following verses are great to meditate on when you need lifting out of a pit:
"But you, God, see the trouble of the afflicted; you consider their grief and take it in hand." Psalm 10:14
"Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone." Lamentations 3:32-33
"So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy." John 16:22
"In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith - of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire - may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed." 1 Peter 1:6-7
"...weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning." Psalm 30:5b
If you are grieving something - whether it be the loss of a person or the death of a dream - I would be honored to pray with you or for you. And if joy in the midst of heartache sounds like an impossible scenario for you, I would love to take you to lunch or coffee and tell you about how Jesus can walk beside you in your struggles. Let me hear from you!
*****Bible passages are quoted in the NIV.