Cut my finger while making dinner. There are things simmering and burning. People are coming over.
Run it under water real quick. It’s probably not that bad.
K. Good, right? Let’s move on.
Nope. Still bleeding. Ok – worse than I thought. Sure hurts now.
Wash it up, grab a paper towel. Try to hold it with the bad hand and cook with the good.
Spill something on the floor.
Drop blood-soaked paper towel.
Ok – gonna hold that paper towel on there for a good 20 seconds and then surely I can just move on.
Ok great let’s go. Pot holders and spoons and set that table already.
Blood on my potholder.
Ok – bandaid, then. It can just beed on the bandaid. I don’t have time for this.
Bleed through the bandaid.
They see what’s going on, though I try to hide. It’s no “big deal”. Others have had it worse.
Mom holds a new paper towel so tight to my finger that I feel a bit dizzy.
Dinner stops. Everything stops. We get in the car and go.
A couple hours later, the bleeding finally stops…because I’ve got 7 stitches holding my skin together.
My friends, you have a bleeding friend. A grieving friend. I know you do. Or you will. Or you are the grieving friend.
I’ve been the grieving friend. Here’s proof…my son’s own grave.
And here’s what I need you to know…whether you are grieving now, know someone who’s grieving, or are simply a human being on this earth….
Grief is the heart bleeding out. It has been wounded. The deeper the wound, the greater the blood flow.
And we cannot expect ourselves or our grieving friends to be able to move forward with life while the bleeding is happening. Like my dinner, everything stops, and you just bleed for awhile.
And it may be a long while. Longer than any of us are comfortable with.
Until the wound is bound up, until the bleeding stops, healing cannot begin.
I say this because we have unrealistic expectations on ourselves. “I should be stronger.” “My faith should be bigger.” “I have to move on.”
And I say this because people have expectations on us. “Are you….are you still sad?” “What exactly is making you sad?” “Hey – come out with us. It’ll cheer you up.”
Grief is not a comfortable subject for any of us…more uncomfortable than bleeding while cooking. But if we continue to plow forward while we bleed; if we continue to place unrealistic expectations on those bleeding, dinner is ruined for everyone.
When our son died and I could not stop bleeding for FAR longer than I felt acceptable, I began to resent people in my life who were working to, in their minds, move me forward. It added a new dimension to the grief…I now felt even lonelier than I did before. Oh – and I was still bleeding.
On the other hand….
The ones who, like my mom, just wrapped me up and squeezed me with their words, with their time, and with the freedom they gave me to feel however I was feeling…they helped slow the blood flow.
And ultimately….and this is the MOST important part, my friends…I couldn’t stop bleeding till I went to the place that binds up hearts with invisible stitches.
“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” – Psalm 147:3
Though He could have changed everything and Travis would be here with us…
Though I prayed for a healthy, strong son and He did not give us that…
Though I couldn’t imagine why on earth He’d allow me to suffer so hard and for so long…
He is the ONLY ONE who really understood me; the only One I didn’t have to explain my pain to; the only One not made uncomfortable by the sight of my bleeding heart….
And the only One with the power to stitch it up…to bind up that kind of wound…so I could live again.
Go to Him. And also, sit with your loved one in the pain and awkwardness of grief and just squeeze them. My mom didn’t have the fix for my finger…I had to go to the E.R. for that. But she slowed the bleeding, and she didn’t let me bleed alone…or expect me to continue to cook up dinner as if everything was normal.
It wasn’t normal, and she acknowledged that. Acknowledge it for your grieving friend, and just squeeze them tight. That’s your job. No fixing. Just squeezing.
But if you are grieving, I hope you feel a tight squeeze from me today. And from everyone else in your life. The truth is…that’s what they’re desperate to do anyway, though some of their words and actions come across differently.
And if you’re loving someone through grief, I hope you feel relief knowing what your role is and what it isn’t. Just be there. Just listen. Just love.
And no matter who you are, when your heart is broken open and bleeding, I SO hope you will go to the One who knows how to bind up hearts.
So you can live again.