On Canceled Plans and Grieving

This week I’ve had to flip ahead to May to write some due dates in my planner, because using my planner brings me a sense of normalcy. And every time I flip to May, I see this all-caps reminder to myself in the May 15 box.

GRADUATION! 

I jotted it down way back in January to keep me focused during my last semester. I just can’t seem to cross it off, and I don’t think I want to.

When I pass this hot pink reminder, I remember the stressful days running from class to work and eating my lunch in my car. I remember the hustle, and counting down the weeks until it was over. May 15 would hold a little hope for me amidst my piling due dates and demands.

And now instead of bubbling up with excitement, I tear up a little. It’s a “would-have” day now. The day I would have graduated (I still graduate, but you know what I mean). And that is sad. 

Grief is kind of like that. This gross familiar feeling of mixing happy memories with sad realities. This happy thing that once held so much anticipation and excitement is kinda bitter now, and this excitement now dances with sadness surrounding May 15. 

I don’t want this whole spiel to be sad. I mean, a lot of what we read and see lately is just heavy, and I don’t care to add to that. But I think I’m just allowing it to be sad. And maybe I’m trying to remind you not to compare your grief with others.

This is a great time for empathy and compassion. We all bring a different level of pain and canceled plans to the table. Some are seniors in high school; some don’t know where their next meals are coming from; some live too far away from family; some don’t like being with their family; some are single moms; some are having to turn their dream weddings into at-home elopements. The list honestly goes on and on. 

I think the internet is a breeding ground for comparing canceled plans. You might be the single mom wondering how you’ll pay rent. And for you, I would trade my trivial canceled graduation. But comparing pain is never the point. Empathy is always the point. What’s healing is when we can lean on each other in whatever capacity we’re grieving. Just listen and be there.

If I know anything about grief, it’s that God walks with us through it. He is Emmanuel, God with us. He is good at using our pain, and restoring broken things. Canceled things. God has the capacity to be exactly what we need today. I know that when Jesus met the woman at the well in John 4, he was able to give her living water to meet her deepest needs. He can do the same for you and me. 

I’ve been reminding myself (some days I’m better at it than others) of Psalm 118:24: “This is the day the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it.” 

I’m sorry for your loss in this season. But cling to him. He always fills the void of heartache and loss.

Canceled plans and all, God has made this day, and so I can find goodness in it. It might be a different kind of goodness than I’m used to, but I can look for it.

It might be a different kind of goodness than I’m used to, but I can look for it.

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. (Lamentations 3:22-23, ESV). 

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