It has been nearly a month since my sister passed away. Shock has worn off, and grief has really begun to take its toll. Although the Lord has given me a tremendous joy by allowing me to discover my pregnancy shortly after Rachel passed away, the extra hormones, fatigue, and nausea have not exactly made grieving easier.
As I have been trying to process everything that has happened over the past year, the lie that I am all alone in this has been creeping into my mind. Of course, the best lies are those that contain an element of truth. The truth is that no one outside my immediate family understands what the experience was like because no one else experienced it first hand. No one other than my family carries the memories of the last year. No one else understands what it was like to rejoice when Rachel made small improvements, all the while being horrified by the knowledge that we would soon be watching this process in reverse. No one else understands what it was like during the last two weeks of her life when my brother, sister-in-law, and I essentially moved into my parents' house because the burden of being away from her was too great. No one else watched when her pain pump malfunctioned and her eyes became wild with pain, and we were helpless. No one else spent the last week watching her for hours just breath and counting the seconds between her breaths because she developed Apnea. At times, I have nightmares about these memories that haunt me.
In some very real ways, no one else really understands, and we are alone.
But just because others don't fully understand doesn't mean they are disqualified from empathizing and sharing in my burden. At times, I have allowed myself to believe the lie that I am completely alone in this struggle. But then God has graciously sent along someone with these words: "I know that I don't understand what you are going through, but I am so sorry you are experiencing this." Sounds simple, but the effect is profound because the words were genuine and heartfelt. At other times, God has sent me friends who just quietly listened to my anguish. In these instances, the Lord gently reminds my heart that I am not alone.
But even greater than that, I have a God who knows my heart intimately, who has been there with me in every moment. He knows my every emotion and thought from the past year. I have been so comforted by Hebrews 4:15-16 which states, "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace in time of need." It is because I have a God who intimately sympathizes and understands that I can confidently know He will extend me grace and mercy during times of need. When I come to Him in prayer, He never responds with "I have no idea what you are going through." Rather, Christ is called "a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief" (Is. 53:). I take great comfort in having a God who understands.