Gaining - Gaining Your Grounding in Your Grief

mindset and goals Dec 14, 2022

In life there are some things, moments, experiences, and memories that will stay with you always no matter what and become an inherent core part of you and your journey. We all could probably have our own lists of these that are the very fibers of each or our own stories that we would write our own book or series on that span our lifetime. For one of those many life moments, memories, and experiences I have had came on April 4, 2017 with a knock at the door of my home and life. With this knock I would find myself facing the greatest life storm and it would be one that would shatter my world and threaten to drown me under the deep crashing waves of this swirling and whirling waves of this storm.  

This knock at the door of my home and life had two police officers standing before me to bring the devastating and tragic news of the untimely, unwanted, and unexpected death of my beloved husband. I was 38 at the time and our babies were six and three. I was 26 hours away from just about all our friends and family living in New Hampshire. In this very instance of receiving this forever lift altering news I couldn’t think, I had no clue what was to come or what was next. I couldn’t see anything. I remember being numb and yet having endless and countless swirls of thoughts and questions. 

I didn’t know much but this is what I did know in that very instance as I stood in my doorway hearing the unimaginable, the unthinkable, and the unfathomable these two things.  All I could say and think was our babies are all that matter and God walks before me, behind me, and all around me. I have to be there for our babies and not doing that would be the ultimate failure and disappointment and dishonoring of John. I also knew that it would be by the Grace of God and through God alone I would be able to do this, travel this journey, and still stand and make it to the other side of this life storm.

These two things that I knew to be true are as true today as they were at that very moment on April 4, 2017 at 9:00 pm (east coast time) and will always be true. These two truths and realities for me relate very much to what goes into the ‘G’ of G.R.A.C.E. The ‘G’ of grace is the idea of finding your grounding in loss and grief and in life. Let’s define what it is to have grounding. The word grounds is to have a solid surface or place. Thus related to this and life, finding one’s grounding means to look for or be in the search of having a solid place to stand or hold you firm in life. Moreover, it becomes most essential to have a solid place to stand or hold to when you feel as if your whole world is coming crashing down or shaking ground now in the journey of grief and loss. I know for me when my own journey started I was desperate to find something that could steady me and hold me as if not to feel as if I was falling and drowning.  

The question becomes what will be the solid grounding that you and I can stand on in these seasons in life. Also, where are we to find such a foundation that will support and hold us when we find ourselves in these circumstances in life such as grief and loss. There could be several places one looks to such as work, family, friends, a system of belief, their own belief in something or their faith among others. I think at times like this it can become easier to question what we believe and what we put our faith in and what could steady us. I think also one of the things that can lead to having solid ground to hold on to is evaluating what we know to be true and understanding what isn’t true and disregarding it. 

A second element that can help form or create one’s grounding that will give them a solid foundation in times of grief and loss or life’s challenges is to evaluate, learn, understand, and hold to your why and purpose. What I mean by this is what is your ‘why’ for what you will do now. What is your why that will sustain you and keep you motivated and focused on the hard and painful days? What will ground you, be your why and purpose for you so that in the, arguably, the hardest season of your journey through life so that you can be able to stand and continue to travel your journey?

It could be your work or passions you know you are called to do or created to do. It could be your family or kids. It could be a desire to honor your loved one or your person to carry on the memory of and legacy of their life.  In exploring and answering this question to discover why you may have to do some soul searching and real evaluation of yourself and your life. But it’s worth doing so for that will be a profound and essential part that will truly hold you and steady you on this journey as you continue to travel it no matter how many times you may have to revisit this purpose and why for your life. 

Another instrumental component to having a strong and solid foundation to ground you in this journey is having or learning to have the ability to shift through and sort out what is fact, fiction, feelings, or faith and being able to know the difference. I think oftentimes we don’t think about the power of the stories we tell ourselves that we may feel is absolutely accurate. Moreover, we don't realize just how powerful they can be and the power we give them by allowing the influence they have on our lives and our mindset. Think of it this way: it's the lens in which we view things that have taken place in our lives. Is the lens we use clear or cloudy? Is the lens trustworthy to be truthful or is it deceitful. Or it is an issue of a simple misunderstanding and that it's a misinformed lens we are relying to inform us and shape our viewpoint.

In order to have a solid foundation to ground us we must be able to recognize the difference between our feelings, what is fact vs fiction and what is our faith. We must do this so that what is informed is accurate and provides us with a clear lens to inform, lead, and provide a foundation for our grounding as we travel this journey. Yes, we need and have our feelings and should always process them, but not every feeling is accurate or can be what makes up a solid foundation. Feelings are fleeting and momentary. Although it can make for great novels, anything that is false and fiction is useless and should not be taken into account in making our foundation for fiction is not what will make a sturdy, strong, and firm foundation. If the fiction is taken into account it will create a misleading and shaking foundation that will not be able to ground us on our journey. 

In consisring the notion of fact and how it plays into what could ground us this is what we need to think on. There is no doubt or question that there are things in life that are fact and are proven by their existence, experience, observation, or knowledge of them. There is no denying the reality of such things. This is the difference though as to what shouldn’t or should go into your foundation that holds you. Yes there is no denying the reality of it, but does all of it have to go into what creates your foundation. 

This is not about denial but rather discernment for what will make and form the strongest foundation. There are facts that can add value and support in building a foundation that can give support and strength. There are other facts that have no value to add or gain from in the effort to build your foundation to ground you in this journey. It’s up to you to learn and have the ability to determine what goes into what bucket and then to use the bucket that will help construct the strongest, most steady, and firm foundation to ground you on this journey. 

The other aspect to consider is the idea of one’s faith is that how does one go about growing and deepening one’s faith. Yes there is truth in having faith is absolutely fundamental and good to do and have. Equally yes it doesn't take much faith and great and impossible things can come from a small seed of faith and that is all that it takes. However, while there is profound truth in Matthew 17:20 there is also another piece to this verse and equation of our faith. This verse is saying that while it only takes little faith such as the mustard there is also great power, strength, might, and dept to one’s faith to hold and steady us as we stand on the foundation of our faith. The question then becomes how does one grow or deepen their faith? 

I think this can be done through several different ways. A few good ways to start with comes from being in, learning, studying, knowing and memorizing God’s word and ensuring we are covered in the Armor of God that we are called to do so in Ephesians 6: 10 - 20. Additionally it’s through prayer time, meditation on God and HIs word, and in our quiet and devotional time that we can strengthen, grow, and deepen our faith. A second area is that we can have our faith strengthened and deepened through church, the collective family of God, and time of worship and service in and through the church. A third aspect to having one’s faith strengthened, growing, and deepening is through one’s own personal observations or life experience as we travel each of… our own journeys of faith and in and through life. It’s through each of these aspects that our faith can be nourished and allow for it to grow, strengthen, and deepen to cultivate, construct the foundation that we will hold to, lean on and steady us, and stand on when the storms of life come knocking on the door of our lives. 

It’s through the process of constructing our foundation that will ground you and me as each of us continue this journey that we can often discover a multitude of things along the way. Some of these things that are included in this process is that more times than not when walking through loss and grief you can and think you have lost yourself and or much of who you were. It can very much become a search for finding yourself again or maybe a new you. Not knowing who you are or where you are in life can be extremely disconcerting and completely throw your center and balance off as if you are completely spun out and out of orbit. So part of reconstructing the foundation of your life after loss and grief can be knowing where you are now and rediscovering yourself as you travel the journey you are now on. 

Another solution to this or an antidote to this problem can be found in countering this feeling of being lost in ourselves and who we are after grief and loss by holding true and standing on the truth of what our identity is and who we are in Christ. If you and I stand on the true wisdom and knowledge of who we are in Christ then nothing can shake us. Nothing else matters other than who we are in HIm. Our foundation can be shaken, broken or shattered. I know this seems impossible or hard to believe but that’s just it we trust and stand on the truth of How our Lord sees us and who we are in Him. For that is who we are as daughters and sons of the King. This faith and belief in our identity can steady us and withstand the storms of life. 

Lately I’ve been thinking about the idea of the story of Peter walking on water to get to Jesus found in Matthew 14: 22 - 33. Seeing that at first Peter was able to walk on water and then he couldn’t. In looking at that story we have to ask ourselves what changed in the story and for Peter. The difference between when Peter was able to walk on water and not being able to walk on water is one thing and one thing only. It was the direction of which Peter was focused on and looking at with his eyes. When Peter was focused on Jesus he confidentiality in full faith was able to walk on water. 

But the very instance and second the direction of Peter’s eyes and focus changed from not being on Jesus that is when Peter was no longer able to walk on the water and started to sink. Changing the direction of his eyes and focus changed everything in that situation that Peter found himself in. His direction of focus wavered and he averted his eyes, attention and focus from Jesus to every other thing around Him such as the rough waves, the rising water, and the storm. In doing this it influenced what he had faith in, believed, and his mindset. 

I think this is beyond extremely applicable and relevant to how we have faith and where we place. Moreover I think this is profoundly to how we travel our journey through life and loss. Also relevant to how we find and build our foundation to steady us in our life as we go through our grief. I know I have struggled with this. It seems like on some days that all I can see are the crashing waves of the life storm of loss, grief and being a widow, raising two kids and trying to live life after loss and grief. I feel as if I've been completely surrounded and trapped under this life storm I’ve been in. There are days that I feel as if all I can do is to keep my head above water. There are days I feel as if I'm a breath away from succumbing to the pull of the undertow of this swirling and whirling life storm. 

Even in the storm I know that all I have to do is hold to what I know to be true. All I need to do is look to the wisdom of the truth of God, my Lord and the Bible. No matter how hard it may be. Even though it’s easier said than done. It’s in these moments that the words of truth are  the only thing that can steady me despite my feelings in the midst of the life storm. I’m turning and keeping my eyes, focus and attention in the right direction that can hold me, sustain me, and steady no matter the reality of the circumstances of my life. In holding to these words and truth I’m building a firm and strong foundation to cling to that steadies me as I strive to keep my head above water, swim to share, make my way through his storm to get to the other side and thrive in life. 

The second part of this is, I have found to be true for me, is finding a solid and strong supportive group of friends who will say I’m with you in this who will come alongside you and say I’ve got you. Personally I wouldn't have made it these last five plus years. My tribe of fabulous friends who are my chosen family that I do life with have made all the difference in the world. I have no doubt that I couldn’t do this if it wasn’t for my tribe of friends. My tribe of friends is my saving grace and a key cornerstone of my foundation that I lean on and hold to and that steadies me and keeps doing so as I continue to travel my journey. 

It is absolutely true in this journey of grief and loss it is essential to have a foundation to stand on, hold to and lean on as each of us travel this journey. But each of us has to find, make, create and construct a foundation that works for us on each or our own journey. I’m here to guide and share with you what is needed for this journey as you travel your own journey but I can’t tell you how to travel it any more than you can tell me how to travel mine. But I do want to share what I have learned and figured out what works in my own journey. In doing so and sharing, maybe you can find your own way to travel your own journey. 

As I have traveled my own journey of loss and grief, I know for me I would not be here writing much less at all if it wasn't for my faith. Yes I have a ways to go but it’s my faith and my faith alone that allows me to still be here and holds me steady.  I choose to keep going, and searching and looking for what I need in this season of life even when it’s beyond difficult. I keep working on myself. I hold on tight for dear life to my ‘why, reason and purpose for still being here and continuing to travel this journey. I rely on my friends and my faith for what I need to sustain me and to keep continuing traveling this journey. What will you choose to use to construct the best foundation for you as you keep continuing to travel your journey and striving to thrive in loss, grief and life. 


Michaela S. Cox TEDx Talk 

Thriving: Open the Door and Leave Survival Behind