Circle of Grief

I arrive with great hesitance. The unknown is scary and the pain of reopening partially-healed wounds has me on guard.

I am warmly welcomed with hugs. The chairs are formed into a circle. I quietly choose a chair and have a seat in the circle of grief.

I look around the circle at the women who have gathered, each one with a story of her own. Each journey has been partially hidden from others out of self-protection, with a barrier created to guard hearts, protect memories, and ensure that no more hurt enters in.

I see so many types of pain. Some wear emotions on their sleeves, tears brimming in their eyes with every word that is spoken. There are eyes that look distant, arms crossed with a guarded look. I can see anger over the injustice they feel. I see hurt so deep that they don’t speak. Some don’t know how to verbalize the feelings being in this circle means to them. Others have a light in their eyes that radiates peace.

We are all on the same journey, just on different paths; each path is marked with different pain. The history that led me to this journey does not match the history of others in the room. The pain of the road I am on is not the same as that of the sweet friend sitting beside me. Some of the pieces of our stories intersect in similarity, but the grief we each must wade through is our very own.

A father has suddenly been lost, without a chance to say, “I love you, Dad,” one last time.

A precious firstborn baby is stillborn. New life has been replaced with sorrow and heartache in a young mama’s life.

A mother has been lost to illness while in the hospital, just days after the prognosis had taken a turn for the better.

A husband is taken from the earth instantly in a car accident, in a different country from his young wife and baby daughter.

Another father became ill, his daughter unable to hug him or be close to him during his last days, due to the complications of a global pandemic—another lost chance at a last goodbye.

A wife of over ten years loses her husband to illness while she sits by his side, day and night.

A teenage son is lost tragically in a car accident one summer evening. He was coming home from a worship service.

A dad is taken from the earth suddenly, leaving behind a precious daughter who is riddled by a sea of emotions, as their relationship was complicated by abuse and lack of love.

Another father loses his battle with Alzheimer’s. This loss is complex; it has lasted for years due to the disease robbing his daughter of time with the dad she had always known.

A mother loses her precious son to a drug overdose. The agony that comes with losing a child has now happened twice in her lifetime.

These are only a few of the stories of loss around this circle.

Grief is a pain so deep that it changes you. It makes your world move in slow motion while everyone else carries on with business as usual. It can cause you to question the goodness of God. Anger can rise and become the driving emotion in your life. It is easy to become stuck in the “What ifs?” and the “Whys?” Grief will bring you to your knees in a puddle of tears and threaten to steal your very breath. Random meltdowns, full of emotion, can arrive suddenly and without warning.

This pain can cause feelings you have never experienced.

These feelings are the reason we are all sitting in this circle. We have walked through loss so intense that we are drawn to be with others who have experienced the same. We desire to be surrounded by others who have experienced and overcome it. There is an intense need to see examples of godly women who seek truth and press into God during the hard times. Every one of us desires to be reassured that we are not alone. These feelings are normal—there is nothing wrong with us.

Choose to walk into this space with these other women. Open your heart and your eyes to the healing that is happening around you. Be open to the possibilities that God will use your loss and pain to transform you and use you to help someone else on life’s journey.

Sit down and take an open seat in the circle of grief, and be transformed.

Kenda Haines finds joy in spending time with friends, encouraging those around her, singing worship music, and being filled with beautiful words. She loves being a mama to two beautiful young ladies and resides in Lowell, MI. She enjoys making time in her life to laugh, share stories, and go on grand adventures.