Grief is so much more than an emotion.

It’s one thing to say a person is sad, or happy, or confused, or  regretful, or depressed, or even angry.

You can picture sadness.

You can imagine happiness.

You can understand feelings of confusion.

You can empathize with regret.

You can feel depression.

You can relate to anger.

But grief.

There’s no way to really explain this word.

It’s impossible to define.

Grief can’t be placed in any certain category, because grief carries every other emotion inside of it.

I can cry in my grief one day and laugh another.

I can look back with a sense of sadness as I grieve, but I can also look back with an overwhelming feeling of thankfulness.

I can praise God for what I had while swinging my fist at what I’ve lost.

Grief is complicated.

Grief is not for wimps and yet no one has the right to decide if their strong enough to handle it, because grief doesn’t wait for an invitation.

Grief happens while we’re trying to live a good life or while we’re choosing to live a not-so-good-life.

Grief doesn’t play favorites, and grief never goes away once it decides to enter your world.

In some ways grief is my best friend.

In other ways grief is my worst enemy.

I can’t imagine who I would be today without grief, but I often wish I could have walked the road of life without meeting him so closely.

Sometimes I feel as if grief has defined my life.

Other times I feel as if I am continually trying to escape its presence.

Grief is complicated.

Even though I’ve experienced the deepest depths of grief as I’ve been forced to say goodbye to two of my children, I still find myself wordless when someone else experiences grief.

I think I realize just how unique grief is to every one of us.

My grief will never look like anyone else’s, so I can’t put boundaries on the pain or sorrow anyone else experiences.

I can’t even put boundaries on my own grief.

Today, I don’t really want to go to work.

Many days I don’t want to leave my house.

Grief has a way of pulling on my arm and trying to push me into a chair, and I often have to fight the urge to just sit and be sad.

But sometimes, I have to allow grief to win.

I have to give grief permission to set me down and make me listen.

I can’t run from grief every day, because the fatigue from doing that would be more exhausting than facing my heartache.

And I know that by constantly running from my grief, I would miss moments like last night where I dug back through memories; and I smiled and had tears and wondered what today would be like had our life never held the words “brain tumor.”

Grief reminds me that my heart isn’t all the way here on this planet and that’s okay.

Grief reminds me that I have survived the valley of the shadow of death and that I am still walking.

I’m sure I will laugh today at work.

I’m sure I will have a few tears along the way too.

Sometimes when I’m sitting with a student and helping them with their reading or math, I’ll catch a glimpse of Nick’s eyes in theirs and I will find myself momentarily overcome with emotion because I know that this child just like Nick has a soul, a purpose, a reason for being on this planet.

And so grief catapults me forward even as it pulls me back.

It pushes me to love more deeply, care more passionately, and live more fully even when my own heart is aching; because grief has a way of saying, “Cherish today.  Remember you have no power over tomorrow.”

So, today, on Nick’s 19th birthday, I find myself facing grief and all its conflicting emotions with a sense of peace.

I think I’ve finally reached a place where I have accepted grief as my complicated companion.

Experiencing grief is like having a best friend you don’t truly understand and can never predict.

You have to be prepared for whatever comes next.






And the list goes on and on.

I’ll never understand grief, and it feels good to finally admit that I’m okay with that.

I’ve learned to embrace my happy days and my sad ones.

God has used grief to refine me, mold me, strengthen me, and somehow transform me from an insecure, nervous little girl into a woman who truly can “laugh at the days to come.” (Proverbs 31)

Today, I’m thankful for messages like the one I received from Katelyn Perry a few days ago in which she shared about talking about Nick with a little child she way babysitting and how that little child held up two thumbs and wondered if Nick does this in Heaven.

thumbs up baby from Katelyn!

How can I not see this as a kiss from God?

I think about the text this morning from Trish in which she shared that Macy was looking at birthday cupcakes in a book yesterday and twice,out of the blue, said, “Nick,” and then kept looking at her book.

I have learned to cherish every message, every sign, every penny,  every thumbs up, every cloud, and every heart that comes my way.

Because grief, though cruel, longs to love me through my hurt.

So, I’ll go to work today even though I want to sit right here all day long and think about Nick.

I’ll carry my grief closely in my pocket and take it out as needed, but I’ll remind it often that it’s only a temporary friend.

One day my eyes will open and all the sadness, all the questions, and all the pain will be washed away for eternity.

Until then, I will cherish verses like Romans 15:13 that remind me that the God of hope longs to fill me with all joy and peace even in my heartache.

I’ll remember that God is close to the brokenhearted, so I’m never ever alone.

I’ll remember that God longs to turn my tears into songs of joy.

I’m happy today even though I’m sad.

I’m content today even though parts of my life are missing.

I’m thankful today even though I feel robbed.

Grief, you are a complicated friend, but I wouldn’t trade you for anyone else.

Happy birthday, my sweet, precious Nick.

I am blessed to call you my son forever!

I love you, and I miss you every single day of my life.