When our hearts are filled with deep sadness and grief, we may wonder how to approach God with our deepest hurts. We may question if we can genuinely tell God how we feel. Or like Chad and Tom mentioned in the introduction to this booklet, we may not even know how to grieve. Perhaps like Chad, you’ve been the tough and resilient Marine. Maybe the following questions which Chad expressed about grief are also your questions.
As we walked around the VA Medical Center campus, Chad anxiously expressed, “I can’t be emotional. I shouldn’t be upset. I should just get over this loss and move on in life.”
“Is that what you feel is expected of you? That you are not to take time to grieve?”
“Yeah. People die in combat. Death is part of war. It is part of the package.”
“So do you believe that not grieving the deaths of your comrades is also your duty?”
“I do not know how to grieve, or what to grieve first. I should have been the one to die. I knew that each of my buddies had wives waiting for them at home, so I pushed them all ahead of me into the bunker. I was trying to ensure their safety before mine.” Chad’s voice began to quiver here and tears began swelling in his eyes as we sat in silence. Between tearful sobs, Chad spoke, “The bunker… it exploded before my eyes. As my last buddy hit the threshold of that bunker… tormenting panic pierced my soul when I witnessed my closest buddies vaporized before my eyes.”
Chad continued to share of how he blamed himself for not dying with his friends. He grieved the loss of their lives and also mourned no longer having their close companionship. He grieved that he would never be able to laugh and pal around with them again. Being that all of his buddies who died were married, he also was deeply saddened by the fact that he came home to no special significant other. He questioned why he would survive when he had no one special waiting for him at home.
Chad had suppressed his feelings of grief for months, but finally was unable to pretend that he was doing “ok.” Being that Chad had lost his closest buddies in Iraq, he initially did not think God cared for him either. Gradually, Chad began to welcome the concept of God as a best friend with whom he could openly and honestly pour out his deep hurts. Maybe, like Chad, you also have refused to allow yourself to cry, to feel the deep pain of loss, and to mourn. For each of us, God desires to be that genuine friend with whom we can sincerely unload our heavy burdens.
Similar to Chad, you may not know how to begin to mourn. When there are no words to express the intense sorrow which plagues your soul, take comfort in knowing that there is a God who holds us and understands our wordless cries.