"No one ever told me that grief felt so much like fear. I am not afraid, but the sensation is like being afraid. The same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning. I keep on swallowing. At other times it feels like being middy drunk, or concussed. There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me. I find it hard to take in what anyone says. Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in. It is so uninteresting. Yet I want others to be around me. I dread the moments when the house is empty. If only they would talk to one another and not to me."C.S. Lewis from A Grief Observed
This week we went to a funeral for a 14 year old boy who died during holy week. A tragic, unexpected death that leaves the parents shocked and numb. And I can't help but feel afraid again. Not so much for myself this time, but I am remembering the feeling of fear that came with Caleb's death and I wonder if this boy's parents are living that fear intensely right now. Fear. I was so afraid in those first few days and weeks after Caleb died. When I picked up C. S. Lewis's book to read A Grief Observed, the words I posted above were the first few paragraphs. And I could instantly relate. Fear. Strange, because like Lewis says, "I was not afraid, but the sensation was like being afraid." I remember one night 2 weeks to the day after Caleb died where I shook with fear. If you had asked me then what I was so afraid of, I couldn't have put words to it. I have never been so scared in my life and my body was conveying that feeling in outward appearances of shaking and wailing. I remember being in the airport on the way back from Florida (where we went the week after he died, to "get away.") and feeling terrified. Again, no reason, just so scared. Almost neurotic watching everyone and feeling so vulnerable.
Fear comes with grief. When the rug has been pulled out from under you and your world comes crashing down, I guess its only natural to feel frightened. It took me a long time not to feel afraid. And even now there are times where the fear rushes back in and consumes me. The gospel story I reflected on during that fearful time was when Peter was walking on the water. He was consumed with fear of the waves. I had always thought Peter must have been weak because he was so afraid of the waves, like it would have been so easy to just keep your eye on Jesus and avoid the storm. My grief has taught me how wrong I was. The waves ARE scary. To not be afraid is not human. Knowing where to go with that fear is the real difference in faith. And where does Peter take his fear? To Jesus.
"But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!” Matthew 14:30.
"Lord Save Me,"became my prayer in the first few weeks and months. Peter was afraid, who wouldn't be? But he took his fear to Jesus and Jesus did save him from the wind and waves. For all grievers out there know the fear is real, its part of grief. Letting the fear come and then taking it to Jesus is the only way to get through the fear. If you could all please pray for the parents and siblings of the 14 year old boy who passed away. Pray for the couple, their marriage, and for Jesus to help them through any fear they may be experiencing.