Grief makes us revisit the past more than we might have had loss not become a chapter in our stories. Doing so brings both blessing and curse.
The blessing is that we become increasingly thankful for what the gone person was to us and to others. This thankfulness then compels us to tap into their influence and to try to emulate them. For me, that has meant trying to be more merciful and compassionate, because my wife was so merciful and compassionate. I try to do and be things that I learned from her.
The downside is that we can get emotionally locked into a life that no longer exists. We feel only the pain of what was and none of the joy of what is. Sadness sans hope.
We are shaped by our past; it is one of the key players that has made us who we are. And now the person we have lost, and how we are responding to their absence, is part of who we are becoming. But just as we would never want to erase our loved one from our memory or deny that our grief is real, we should not try to escape the present. We have to live—even though that means a different life than we had envisioned.
I like to think of the past as a type of advisor who can: show me how to make better decisions in the light of lessons learned; remind me to enjoy the swiftly passing moments; urge me to value old friends and to welcome new ones; focus my efforts on loving God and serving others instead of building more barns to store more stuff.
There’s so much that the past has to teach me, and though I don’t always appreciate what it says, I’m learning to listen. Learning as I hurt forward.
© 2022 by Tim Grissom. All rights reserved.