Two weeks have now gone by since we lost our little son.
In some ways, it feels like it has been longer. Remembering certain details is already becoming more difficult. My three young children have still needed to eat/play/act like wild animals everyday and that can make the days seem long whether you are grieving or not.
This grieving process is different for everyone and I don’t think you can know what to expect until you enter in. Grief changes with the movement of the sun and can be triggered in an instant, which is why questions like “how are you” are almost always unanswerable.
You live in the paradox of being heartbroken and happy at the same time. Longing for what is gone while being grateful for the time you had and the gifts still present. This dichotomy is easier to put into words than it is to live in. One more lesson that must be learned day by day. Grief is a dedicated schoolmaster.
This weekend I learned that I’m not really ready to be away from home for extended periods of time. Even when extended just means a night away.
Away from home, I realized how much home is my “home base” right now. It’s the place where I can cry freely among James’ things. The place where I can ask for and receive extended hugs without any awkwardness. The place that offers comfort and peace in the art on the walls, in the warm glow of lamplight, and even the stains in the carpet– because they are ours.
Home with my people is my sanctuary and venturing out for too long was hard.
I’m also learning the role that music has in our grief. And like so much else, it is evolving.
The first week after we returned from the hospital we tried not to listen to much slow, quiet music. We felt too raw and the soft melodies and dirge-like refrains were suffocating as we attempted to go about our day. Rather, the light and upbeat was what we chose to stream through our speakers.
Now, however, I find myself turning to different music.
Like my husband reminded me when I wasn’t sure I was ready to return to church, we need to be where truth is faithfully spoken into our lives. Hymns are doing this for me on a daily basis, serving as a friend who sweetly and patiently tells me that everything will be alright, even as I weep and don’t fully understand.
Knowing that this life is not the end is great comfort. Sorrow, broken relationships, and struggle are our companions now, but one day they will be no more for those who love Christ and are found in Him.
It is true that I generally prefer hymns, usually set to new music, over much of what is labeled “worship music” today. But during this time, the value of hymns is heightened exponentially.
When I just want to be alone. When a conversation is overwhelming. When my emotions simply seem tired. These hymns have been a refuge of my weary heart.
My favorite hymns are sung by Indelible Grace, a collaboration of artists who take timeless hymns and set them to more contemporary music. I was introduced to the group in college and for years these hymns have instructed, encouraged, and cheered me.
A few hymns have special memories and significance. We sang Jesus I My Cross Have Taken in our wedding and I found inspiration for the name of this blog in its stanzas. God Moves in A Mysterious Way will always make me think of James, even as From Depths of Woe reminds me of driving home from the hospital after an early miscarriage before becoming pregnant with my daughter.
These hymns are wonderful now in the midst of grief, but filling our minds and hearts with truth is important long before we find ourselves in trouble.
I would recommend every single Indelible Grace album. But if this particular group is not your style, I would simply encourage you to choose music which is full of truth. Because music that is merely emotionally stirring without giving your feet something solid to stand on will not be sufficient when you need it.
For me, I’m clinging to truth and the promises of God. I miss my son terribly, but I know two thing confidently: God is good and He is sovereign.
More of James’ Story: