Grief Transformed

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By Candi Allen

Time.

After all this time, I still think of a South African sunset every time I smell a grass fire. It was winter when I was there, but a common time for grass fires.

After all this time, I still think of several beautiful South African people when I hear A Cappella singing. We were often welcomed into worship services with nothing but the perfect harmonies of their voices.

After all this time, when the garbage truck comes to take garbage away I still think of taking fresh oranges to the people on a hot day at the big garbage dump where some South African people would scavenge for materials to recycle for money as their daily job.

After all this time, I still remember the feeling of my stomach dropping and my legs going numb when I received the phone call from the States when my Dad called me to tell me my fiancé had crashed his plane.

After all this time, I still remember the debilitating pain of grief as reality set in that my fiancé was dead.

After all this time, I still hate the color yellow. It reminds me of seeing a trailer full of pieces of the yellow airplane that my fiancé died in that summer. Pieces- unrecognizable pieces of metal all piled on the trailer like storm debris.

After all this time, the smells of an airport bring me back to the long journey back to the states for all the funeral arrangements.

9 years.

I can’t decide what’s more amazing: all the things I forget over time, or all the things I still remember.

Grief has a way of searing things into our minds, deep down into our conscience.

Sometimes, it’s hard to admit that this is a tough day. Every other day of the year it seems I can justify putting away whatever thoughts or memories of that season of my life.

But today, it’s just hard. It feels unavoidable.

Perhaps it’s hard because I can’t decide what’s more terrifying: recalling the details of the consuming grief of that day, or thinking about all I would not have gained in my life since that day.

9 years ago I lost my fiancé. My best friend. My hopes. My dreams. I thought I had lost all of me. My eyes were blinded by the horrifying details of circumstance.

Grief – it comes in quickly and then comes and goes as it pleases, often leaving us with scars deeper than we realize.

After all this time, I still remember going back to his grave a year later. I am not sure I really could have prepared for that. I mean, of course I brought a box of tissues and a close friend, but I mean I don’t think I was ready to experience an emotion more powerful than grief…

Peace.

The first year after Ben died was filled with so many hard days. There were days of sudden unexplained feelings of fear. Other days were filled with guilt for smiling or laughing too much too soon.

But then Peace.

That day when I stood at his grave a year later, I was consumed, in the same way grief seemed to consume my body from inside out the day I got the phone call that he had died. I stood at that grave side now consumed with peace.

Over that entire year, and in the years since, I have watched my world at times swirl around me uncontrollably.

psalm 29 11

But God.

My Savior wrapped His arms tightly around me even on that horrible day and held me as my world washed out from under me.

My Savior wrapped even tighter His arms around me when I stood at Ben’s grave side that day- one year later. Still standing and feeling the rush of memories coming flooding back, all I felt was peace.

I could hear God say in that moment, “This is not it. I will not forsake you. I love you beyond death. I will use even this to pour out my goodness and grace on your life.”

I’d be lying if I said I ever believed God’s goodness in that year.

    I questioned.

        I wrestled.

            I fought myself to see the beauty of this God I loved in the midst of this tragedy.

9 years later.

Here I am. Today I feel sad. I miss a friend today! I can still feel the strong sting of grief today, but perhaps stronger yet is the feeling of the truth I see now of that moment at his grave a year after he died when I was consumed with God’s peace.

I didn’t believe it then, but I experience it now. God has taken a tragic life-changing event, a big pile of grief, and He has used it to shape me and strengthen me to this day.

This day when I sit in my beautiful Montana home.

This day that I wake to an amazing husband, three beautiful children, and a little wonder kicking inside me.

I am overwhelmed today as I think about all that God has done to keep His promise of goodness and grace to me over these last 9 years.

Grief is consuming, but His peace is transforming.

Grief is painful, but His peace brings healing.

The tragedies of grief in this life can often be the ugly end of us.

But for me, because of my Savior, it was just the beginning …a very beautiful beginning.

About this Guest Author

Candi Allen is a fine Christian lady and a talented writer. She is married and has several children. Even though staying home with the children is a full-time job she still finds time to be active in ministry in her local church. Candi is especially dear to the heart of Pamela Rose because she is Pamela’s daughter.

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Pamela Rose Williams

Pamela Rose Williams is a wife, mother, and grandmother. She and her husband, Dr. Michael L. Williams, have served in Christian ministry since 2001. She has a bachelor's Degree in Christian Education and spends most of her time as a professional editor and writer, working with many Christian authors and artists. Additionally, she works with her husband using their extensive experience in information technology to provide Christ-centered teaching and resources to people all over the world. To learn more about Pamela visit her About page.