I wrote this last summer and didn't post it. It applies as much today as it did then, so I thought I would share it...
As I continue to make my way through grief, I see that grief manifests itself differently over time. I do not spend as many days in deep, intense despair as I did a year ago. Instead I have a constant level of sadness that isn't as debilitating. There are even days when I feel joyful. The good days come more frequently and the difficult days are farther apart. Rather than wondering how I will move forward in life, I see that I am moving forward. I prayed that God would heal my heart and He is. It is happening slowly, over time.
One part of grief that is surprisingly tricky for me are the times when I do feel better. I've had many moments over the last few months where I look forward to moving into the next phase of living, away from grief. There is joy mixed with a strange sting of sadness in these moments, but the joy usually outweighs the pain of acceptance. I frequently ask God, "Lord, what do you have next for me? What do you want me to do now?" I know that I'm still here for a reason and I anxiously wait for Him to answer my questions.
Gently, God has shown me a few things He does not have for me right now. In doing that, He also allowed me to see that just because I feel better than I did before, I still have intense underlying sadness and a low tolerance for stress. Something as simple as a trip to Michigan to see my family, something that was joyful in the past, is draining. The first few times I went, I couldn't understand why I felt so wiped out after returning home. I realize now that I seriously underestimated the effects of grief on my ability to handle stress, even good stress.
Feeling better does not equal done with grieving.
Thankfully, God knows this and He allowed prayers to go unanswered and doors to remain closed when I tried to get ahead of myself in moving forward. Because He showed me the far-reaching effects grief still has on me, I am able to let go of my expectations of what I think my future should look like. By letting go, I am free to settle into the very real present where He has me now. That freedom, the kind that only He can give, is so very exciting and welcomed.