Grief is a really odd experience to have. One day you’re powering through a list of to-dos like you’re on autopilot. The next, you’re numb. Grey. Lifeless. Sense of humor? What’s that? After losing our baby (you can read his story here), I’ve gone through a rollercoaster of emotions and personality tweaks with my grief. I just don’t feel myself anymore. It’s unpredictable, and hard to manage.
Today I came across a post on social media about the story in Mark 2. And I feel like God reminded me of something really profound.
And when [Jesus] returned to Capernaum after some days, it was reported that he was at home. 2 And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them. 3 And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men. 4 And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. 5 And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 Now some of the scribes were sitting there, questioning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak like that? He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8 And immediately Jesus, perceiving in his spirit that they thus questioned within themselves, said to them, “Why do you question these things in your hearts? 9 Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Rise, take up your bed and walk’? 10 But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he said to the paralytic— 11 “I say to you, rise, pick up your bed, and go home.” 12 And he rose and immediately picked up his bed and went out before them all, so that they were all amazed and glorified God, saying, “We never saw anything like this!”
In the days immediately following the loss of Baby August, I felt so numb. I could barely eat enough for weeks. I couldn’t sleep at night, and wanted to do nothing but sleep during the day. The apartment was a mess. Laundry was a mountain high, and mail piled on the kitchen table. I had to be reminded to do just about everything but breathe: take a shower, brush your teeth, eat something, go outside.
I used to be a tough love, “pull yourself together” type of girl when I went through something difficult. But this was different. I couldn’t. Physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually — I lost the ability to do anything beyond survive. And while those kinds of grief waves have come less frequently and less intensely, there are still some days when I feel paralyzed, much like the man in Mark 2.
I had read the passage in Mark 2 many times in my life. But when the Lord brought it to my attention recently, I noticed some things that I never noticed before.
I feel like point #2 is a whole separate blog post. It’s a lesson that I’m still asking God to work out in my heart and reveal to me. So for now, I will focus on the first point.
The paralytic had no way of coming to Jesus without help. Similarly, the numbness felt in grief sometimes leaves us helpless to find the words to pray. It leaves us empty and shattered down to dust. We have questions, doubts, even anger toward God. But it can be hard — some days impossible — to articulate that in prayer or worship.
In these moments, I needed someone to “carry my cot” just like the men in Mark 2 carried their friend’s cot to the Lord. I have found it so much easier in these moments of overwhelming grief to ask for prayer from my friends than to go to the Lord myself. And beyond prayer, I needed to feel the Lord’s presence. And it has most often been felt from these selfless, servant-hearted people.
Another lesson I’ve learned in this season is there are some who come along with a heart to help, but they unintentionally do anything but. Sometimes, we complicate helping someone in their grief or time of need, when all they truly need is to be brought to the foot of the cross. Some ways people try to help in ways other than simply carrying the cot are:
When I lost Baby August, and even today as I deal with my recovery and grief journey, I’ve had friends and family who so beautifully picked me up and carried by cot to the feet of Jesus. This was done in numerous ways, and I am so thankful for each one. Every effort was a dose of healing along the way. It also proves that there’s more than one way to carry someone’s cot.
To the friends and family members who called and texted, both when we first experienced our loss and in follow-ups on the road to healing, thank you for carrying my cot. Every word, even when you felt or expressed you didn’t have the perfect thing to say, meant the world.
To the friends who visited and gave a literal shoulder to cry on, thank you for carrying my cot. Sometimes just feeling held, even in silence outside of the sobs and sniffles, felt like being held by Jesus. You were the physical representation of his arms for me.
To the friends who brought food or treated us to dinner, thank you for carrying my cot. I’ve expressed before that it was hard at times to remember to eat, because hunger wasn’t noticeable above the pain. Your forward action helped sustain me when I couldn’t think to sustain myself.
To the friends who lended us their dog for a few days, THANK YOU for carrying my cot. You know who you are. And what a creative, yet supremely therapeutic gift that was! When I couldn’t get the motivation to leave my bed or my couch, your sweet pup forced me to my feet to care for something other than myself. And the snuggles when I just needed to weep helped me do so without feeling lonely.
To the friends who supported Kevin individually, thank you for carrying our cot. In miscarriage, Fathers are often forgotten. But grief is hard on relationships. You investing in my husband and allowing him to grieve made him all the stronger to carry me every day.
To the friends who don’t know what to say, but pray for us privately, thank you for carrying our cot. I know your lack of words comes from a place of care and fear of making things worse. There’s so much grace for that. But we appreciate when you even think of us at all and bring our petition before the Lord for healing.
If you are also enduring a trial in life, just remember that friends who carry you to the arms of Jesus and foot of the cross are the greatest blessing in times like this. Name them. Thank them. And remember them… especially when your miracle or rainbow comes.
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