When my grief post went viral last November and people were sharing their advice on grief, several people mentioned that the second year was harder than the first. That’s crazy! I thought. NOTHING could be harder than the first year. Nothing.
Then the second year hit. And I can attest to this fact: The second year of grief is harder than the first.
One reason year two has been hard is because I’m having to face unhealthy things about my grieving process thus far.
After my friend died, I had this deep calling to honor my friend’s name, to write for her, to share her story, to write the novels she would never write. So I poured my whole heart and soul into writing. I would come home from work, go into my room, and spend hours and hours writing. I wouldn’t even talk to my roommates much—especially in the first 6 months or so after the murder.
Writing was my drink of choice, and I drowned my sorrows in it. I pushed and pushed and pushed myself because I was working so hard on my book and my blog, trying to fill the void that was in my heart because of the pain of betrayal, loss, and hurt. My health was horrible, and I felt like a complete wreck.
So year two hit, and I was dating someone (completely out of left field!) for a few months. He asked, “Who are your friends?” I had to say, “There are only a few in Colorado.” And it hit me just how little I truly had connected here. I mean really connected. I know lots of people in Colorado, but there are still very few I’d call when I’m not doing well or need help. Because I was dating, I was suddenly thrust into the real world again. I couldn’t hide behind my writing. It couldn’t be my drink anymore. I had to face some of those unhealthy coping patterns.
I was creating this barrier between me and people, because I was wounded. This has been a problem with me for a long time, but it only got worse once grief hit. When you love people, they leave, they die, they betray you, I was subconsciously thinking all the time. So I just need to NOT need people. Not ever.
If you’ve seen Frozen, I would’ve been Elsa–building her castle through her unique giftings to keep everyone away.
Another reason year two has been so hard is the anger.
If there was one word that could sum me up this year, it’s been ANGRY. I don’t know why it took so long for the anger to really hit. I mean, I was angry before, but it was nothing compared to the intense anger I felt this year. In March (ish–I can’t quite remember) there was an evening when I actually cussed God out multiple times.
Yep, you heard me right. I cussed out God.
“Why the @#%& did You let this happen?” I yelled out loud (luckily, I was home alone). “Why the &%$* did You let my friend meet this guy and get sexually assaulted and then murdered? Why the @*&! do so many people use religion as a tool to control and abuse others? WHY, God? What the #$*% is wrong with this world?”
If I’m being honest, I hit a really low point this spring. I was afraid I was going to walk away from Christians. Not God, not even Jesus, but Christian people. I was so sick of Christians. I couldn’t see anything good about the church. All I could see was darkness and despair. So what was I doing, trying to have hope and faith and love? I was going to walk away in anger, bitterness, and cynicism.
I wrote about Judas during Easter, and it scared me how deeply I related to him. I couldn’t see anything good about the world. I was dating, but I had no hope for a future. I couldn’t ever see myself falling in love or having children. I couldn’t emotionally attach to a guy. I just couldn’t feel anything but despair and anger and hopelessness.
Another reason grief is so hard the second year is because of shame and loneliness.
I haven’t really connected at a church yet. I was going to one, then I left it, and I’m going to another. I go on Sunday mornings, and I leave right after the service because I can’t handle it. I can’t handle letting Christians into the wounded areas of my soul. I had a hard time dating because I felt like I had to plaster a smile on my face even as I was going through interior anguish. I haven’t felt like I can be honest about how bone-weary I truly am with many people because I’m usually the strong one when it comes to faith.
How do you tell people, “I’m having a really hard time right now because my friend was a great Christian on fire for Jesus, and her husband abused and murdered her—all in the name of God. I see a lot of rampant abuse happening in the church, and my heart breaks for the victims, and I just want to see a church that truly loves people and defends them and heals them when they most need it”?
How do you tell people, “My heart is bleeding in many different places right now. I’m hurting so badly I want to scream sometimes. In fact, I have screamed a couple of times this year. I’m struggling so deeply. I want to walk away from this whole faith thing, but I can’t. Something keeps me here. But I have no words, no answers, no strength left for the fight”?
Can you say these things out loud? Not at church.
I’m ashamed of my brokenness, my questions, my struggles. I feel so alone in these things, because no one seems to understand. Everyone else has moved on but me. Because I’m not waking up from this.
The reality of grief really hits during the second year. The true reality that this isn’t a dream, and it’s very real, and you’re very damaged, and you don’t know how you’re going to make it…
So that’s been my second year of grief so far. I don’t even know why I’m being this honest on my blog, or why I’m writing this down. This whole post is a like a huge red flag: TERYN HAS BIG ISSUES. SHE DOESN’T HAVE IT ALL TOGETHER. WHAT A LOSER. I’m such a people-pleaser, and it’s hard for me to be so honest, especially now that I’m more “successful” as a blogger. It puts some pressure on me to hide, and I just can’t live like that. I’ve got write what’s on my heart, even when my heart is in a very hard place.
All I know is that God is really making me face a lot of things right now. I need to heal on so many levels. All I know is that this grief has been a catalyst for me to face deeper and deeper issues that linger in my soul. All I know is that God IS the only answer, and the only time I feel assurance or peace is when I’m clinging to Him. All I know is that God’s love covers me, that He will walk beside me, that He will never let me go—even if I cuss at Him. All I know is that I’m stumbling towards glory, and sometimes I don’t know if I can walk much further.
But I keep walking. Day by day, I keep walking.
Little by little, even as I write this brutally honest blog post that I’m afraid to publish, hope comes back. It stirs in my soul. I know I will make it through. I mean, even the dance I got to do this month was so meaningful and healing. So many good things are happening throughout all this pain. I’m growing in so many ways.
All God wants is honesty. All He needs is my brokenness poured out at His feet. He’s got this. He’s placed so many people into my life to love and encourage me. I am not alone. He will never let me go. Something is going to come out of all this. Something good and life-giving and beautiful.
Photo by Adobe Stock/Kristina