When Grief Catches Up

Jan 24, 2022 at 06:24 am by cghattas

The author and her husband Raouf.
The author and her husband Raouf.

There’s one thing I don’t like about grief. Well, there are a lot of things I don’t like about grief, but this one is close to the top: it’s just so illogical. 

As a person who prides herself on being logical and analytical, grief just rushes in and messes with my mind. I can’t stand it! And that’s what happened one weekend back in 2020, almost five years after the loss of my husband. I’d been doing very well, had it all under control. You see, I was letting go of one of the last connections, a big one—our house.

I sold the cabins, places we built and spent wonderful times, but this was our actual home of the last six years of family life together. It was the place he planned for when ministry was hard overseas. It was our “retirement” home, though I use that term lightly.

There are three reasons I found my emotional upheaval so illogical:

  • I wasn’t a big fan of the house when we bought it seventeen years ago.
  • I didn’t live in it the last two years prior to selling. I bought a condo and let my son and his new wife start their lives there.
  • I should have been happy to no longer be paying taxes and insurance on it.

So, there I was, jumping the hurdles of getting it on the market, cleaning it out (don’t ask me about my husband’s woodworking shop), and putting the closing date on my calendar. Through all this my grief stayed in check, even as I walked around the yard on multiple occasions, remembering the moments of “taking a turn” with my husband and the conversations we had. The emptier the house became, the more distance between me and the life I once knew in that place.

Then the day arrived of one last time with my boys, making sure we’d done it all. We stood in the kitchen; arms entwined as I prayed for those to come within her walls. The tears began, as my sons let me get it out. No condemnation, just love and understanding.

That pushed me through the next week in peace. I’d said my piece. I was ready to let go. Closing was Monday. Then it happened, late on Friday afternoon—a glitch, not a big one, but one that would push things a couple of days further down the week. I felt grief raise his ugly head. Why would this door not just close?

That’s when my son said, “Maybe it’s God’s way of really making you ready to give it up.”

Children can be so irritating sometimes.

I headed for the Chinese restaurant to bury my sorrows in General Tso’s chicken. Sitting at home with pajamas on by 6 p.m., I spent a numbing evening with British TV and finally went to bed close to midnight. I tried to sleep; I wanted to sleep, but sleep would not come. I opened my drawer to find an antique copy of Browning’s Sonnets of the Portuguese that belonged to my grandmother. Tears flowed, as I read them all, missing the one of whom I could not count the number of ways I had loved.

Tears out, I turned over in the bed and asked God why. That’s when he said, “Why are you crying, Carol? Count your blessings.”

That did it—I did—one by one until the peace that surpasses all understanding returned and I was alright. It was alright. I could let go, even when it seemed far from the perfect ending.

The next morning, or later that morning, I should say, I was not really in the mood to go to the author luncheon I had on my schedule, but I did. And that’s when I was reminded of something I already knew to be true:

When we let go, then God…

I saw the parents of the people buying my house. After the initial small talk, the mother said, speaking of her daughter and son-in-law: “When they saw your name on a trunk, the mailbox made by your brother, the wonderful bookshelves, the cross on the shop…they knew this was the house for them.”

I smiled, knowing that God had helped me through my grief moment, taught me a lesson, and still chose to bless me with a sweet serendipity.

Has grief caught up to you of late? Struggling to let go? Take a minute, even if it’s in the wee hours of the morning, to count your blessings and watch what God will do.

Grace and Peace

Carol B. Ghattas is a writer, speaker, and active blogger. Subscribe to her blog, lifeinexile.net, or follow her on Facebook or Instagram. Connect with her at lifeinexile.net.

*This post was originally published in 2020 at lifeinexile.net.

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