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Swim Parallel to the Shore

            Last week I called a gentleman whose wife I had helped him bury about three months ago.  He’s one of these guys who doesn’t really believe in anything he can’t see—that gets in the way of believing in God, doesn’t it?  As we talked it wasn’t long before he revealed that he was really hurting, grieving over his wife’s death.  He mentioned having read a number of books and articles on grieving and used an illustration from one how the grief and sadness seems like an ocean wave—100 feet high ocean wave crashing down on you.  And that one knocks you down and here comes another one.  And you don’t know what to do.  I chimed in with “Be careful of the under tow!”  He heard that and agreed and recognized that this is the danger of being overwhelmed with grief.  I asked him, “What do you do when you sense the ocean undertow?”  He said, “swim parallel to the beach.”  That’s exactly right—if you can remember where the beach is—which you should always know if you are in the ocean!  When dealing with grief, recognize that the 100 foot waves will come and knock you down.  Be aware of the undertow—rip tides!  And when you sense that you are being drawn down and out into deeper water, swim like crazy trying to swim parallel to the shore.  Remember where the shoreline is and swim alongside it until the riptide passes and you can again stand in the shallow water.  Grief is a good thing—it is God’s way of helping us deal with loss.  But grief can sometimes be so overwhelming and we must be careful that we not allow ourselves to be sucked into the deeper part of the ocean where we drown!   The good news is that the 100 foot waves become 80 and then 50 and gradually, over time, they diminish in size and we are no longer knocked off our feet due to the loss we’ve experienced.  This man is only three months into his grieving—and he, naturally, feels sometimes as if he’s going crazy!   But he isn’t.  He’s going through something that is very normal for an absolutely unnormal situation.  One doesn’t lose a spouse every day.  You don’t lose your life’s savings every day.  You don’t lose your health every day.  We do experience loss in life—and grieving helps us deal with the losses.  But we must be careful that we not get swept out in to the “deep” and not be able to recover.  Thank God for Grief—and for His strength to help us deal with losses and recover.      JG

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