Emerging from the Darkest Valley

MendedHeart.1Heart Lesson

My Heart Lessons tell my story of grief from first days through the first year after Jennifer’s death. Please refer to the post “One Year” if you missed the post about the one year anniversary.

My goal throughout these posts has been to present the ever-changing landscape of grief work. The stages and feelings on grief do not occur exactly the same for every individual. I’ve tried to show this journey honestly, including all the ups and downs.

By the end of the school year of 2003 my journaling tapered off and can be found in spurts. I did begin to emerge from the darkest days, not at once, not gradually, but with the same unpredictable pattern of the first year of grief.

June 30, 2003

A beautiful sunny and cool Saturday morning. A soft breeze in the tulip poplar and clear blue skies.

I’ve been unable to write for a month. I can’t pray or study my Bible. I can’t take the chance of crying or feeling emotional. Just reading about a mission trip the teenagers from church took can pull deep emotions from me. It triggers memories of Jennifer and the many mission trips she experienced. I protect myself from this pain by not going to events or places where I will be touched or reminded of Jennifer.

At home, I am safe. If I don’t want memories, I can change rooms or do other things. However, these past two weeks I have worked on the upstairs bedrooms. It was a process. First, I painted my office, added a wallpaper border, new table skirt, curtains, and arrangement of furniture. Once this room was complete I could move on to her bedroom.

In the beginning I realized I felt down, not a major depression, just generally low in spirits.  Not surprisingly, a migraine appeared and lasted for two days. I just felt bad physically but kept plugging away on sorting through all the “stuff” at my own pace. By the end of the week I was better and could see real progress. Most of her clothes and college memorabilia had already been given away, so this was going through things from her childhood. Larry asked me how I could work on her room now when i could hardly stand to go in her room for a year. Some of it was the “head” thing. I realized that if she and Josh had married on the planned wedding date in May I would be doing the same thing — sorting through childhood memories and turning her room into a guest/sewing/workroom.

The final project was to frame her school pictures and arrange them in the hall chronologically.?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????


These pictures helped to remember her from a  preschooler all the way through to high school graduation.

The rest of the summer of 2003 was dedicated to work on Trevecca classes and my dissertation. The work made  a good excuse for not seeking God. I truly felt far away from God, and then some anger began to simmer around that nagging question, “why?”.

In the next post I’ll  open up some of the windows to let you see how my heart gradually opened, and I began to find my way.

These quotes from Wangerin make sense now, and I knew they were true even back in 2003. I just didn’t want to believe them. I needed to be mad at God for a time.

Grief is not an enemy. It’s the hurt of healing. Grief is the grace of God within us,the natural process of recovery.

Grief is itself the knitting of wounded souls, the conjoining again of brokenness (p. 29).

The purpose of grieving is to turn the bereaved back to life. . . back to God. They cannot continue to exist with the raw, unhealed wound.

The goodness of their grieving is that it brings them by stages into the stream of the living again, however slowly, however painfully.

Counting these joys:

  • a faithful God who sent me people to ease my pain and distract me from the darkest valley
  • the pain of grief no longer consumes my soul
  • the comfort of the Holy Spirit when I had no words for prayer
  • all those who prayed to God in our place that we could find some comfort 



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