Hope. In some way, we are all searching for it, all yearning for it, all hoping for it. It is the light at the end of the tunnel, it is the reason to keep fighting.
But then grief comes thundering in, and hope seems lost. A darkness settles in and it is smothering and it is deep, and it is so hard to see how you will ever have hope again.
1 Corinthians 13:13 “Three things will last forever – faith, hope, and love…”.
Hope that will last forever. But what if it does not feel like that? What happens when you find yourself walking around and around in circles trying to find the hope that grief lost? How do you find that hope again? How does life again have meaning?
I think these are questions a lot of people ask after grief hits, wondering why.
In the early days and weeks, all you will see is the things you have lost; lost dreams, lost moments. You will walk around the house finding memories, treasures, clothes that make your loved one feel close to you again. Maybe you will find a favourite jumper and you hug it close to you, breathing it in, and maybe that is the only way you will find sleep. Maybe you will find yourself dreaming of your loved one, but you cannot quite make out their face, or their voice, yet you know somehow that it is them. On those mornings when you awake, you feel the grief heavier than ever, because even sleep is not sweet. You dwell on the loss, the gap, the hole, the place in your heart that feels empty now because your loved one who had filled that space is no longer here.
Perhaps, in these moments, you feel like you are drowning in your hopelessness.
This experience of grief is perhaps one of the most painful things a person can go through, and it can take you to a pit of despair.
But hope. Hope will last forever.
I am one of those people who stopped believing in this scripture. I believed that hope was dead. But hope, despite my dogged determination to not believe in it, crept up on me and settled on my heart. And suddenly, I started to breathe easier.
How do we find that hope again?
Desmond Tutu, a South African Archbishop, once said, “Hope is being able to see that there is light despite all of the darkness”.
This rings true also in grief. No one expects you to find light within the loss or death of your loved one, but to find the light despite this. To find the light in the eyes of your children, the light in the flowers still growing in the garden, the light in your friends, the light in your church or your community. To see the light in all that you still love. That gap in your heart will never be filled in the exact same shape that your loved one left, but you can find hope within the things and people and even pets that you still love.
Psychologist, Lisa Firestone says that when we avoid our feelings and emotions (in this case, grief), we are tuning out important clues as to who we are. She goes on to say that by cutting out “negative emotions” such as anger, sadness, and grief, we become numb to life as we are not able to selectively remove what we deem to be negative emotions, without sacrificing the positive ones as well.
Thus, to grieve itself is a hope.
You are allowing yourself to go through the painful process of grief, rather than denying the pain, denying the loss, denying the death. By grieving, you are hoping. You are acknowledging to yourself and to those around you that you are hurting, and that you have suffered a loss in your life; that someone significant to you is no longer present. The fact that you are grieving is, in this season, pointing out significant clues as to who you are in that moment. You may have gone from wife to widow, husband to widower, a child (regardless of age) may be now an orphan, a fiancé returning to single life.
This change in season is significant, and grief allows you the time to acknowledge that. To let yourself grieve that, is to let yourself hope,
is to let yourself heal.
Whilst sometimes it does not feel like it, grief does soften. And when it does, you will see the hope you have always had guiding you through it. That heartbeat of yours is a sign of a promise; a promise that God holds your life, and that He gives you the strength, the character, the ability, and the hope to get through anything.
Sometimes, hope comes by believing in the words that other people say;
The hope is within yourself.
You are a fighter.
You can do this.
You are not alone.
You are brave.
You are stronger than you think you are.
When I lost sight of hope, I had amazing people around me who saw my pain and the loss that I had suffered, and they were the ones who kept telling me that hope was not lost.
Like above, they told me words of encouragement, and they told me words that I did not know about myself, and they kept pointing me towards God, the author and perfector of my faith and my hope. For a long time, it was difficult to believe them, but over time their voices and these words echoed in my soul and brought me through the grief. They helped carry me until I could stand on my own in the belief that there is always hope.
Finding hope after grief is to find the light, and realise it is bigger than the darkness. It is to let yourself feel and grieve. It is to listen and lean on those around you, those who you show you the hope that is within you, and the hope that is in the world.
Because at the end of the day, hope will last forever.
By Danielle Myers