One month ago today, on October 25th, we got the shock of receiving two horrible pieces of news. First, that our friends Adam and Sarah Walker Cleaveland had lost their twin babies, and secondly that one of my best friends, Praise Goh, has passed away unexpectedly from a rare tumor of the adrenal gland called pheochromocytoma.
It was the day from hell, and in an attempt to find something to get mad at that day, we all swore to black list October 25th from our calendars for the rest of life.
The last month has been a journey of grief, tears, confusion, remembrances, travel, love, friendship, and sharing stories. Only six months ago Kevin and I lost our brother in law to cancer, and now, this? I feel broken. Crushed. Completely overwhelmed. And for one of the first times in my life… I admit. I am completely broken. I even attended my first ever counseling session in an attempt to make sense of my emotions.
Grief to this level has been a new journey for me. Death is not unfamiliar, and surprisingly Praise’s death came with a peace of knowing she was with Jesus. But the grief I experienced with her loss was beyond what I’d known of grief before.
Grief is teaching me. We all grieve differently, and being able to go home and be with friends and family who loved Praise just as much as I did allowed for my grief to simply BE. To be surrounded by people that knew our stories, to laugh with them and tell jokes that others may deem inappropriate (grief has a way of bringing out the strangest humor)… it’s teaching me that MY grief, MY experiences, are justified. That there is no one way to grieve. But what’s important is to let grief BE. To not push it away.
But it hurts… Differently
there’s no way to predict
how you will feel.
The reactions of grief are
not like recipes,
with given ingredients
and certain results.
Each person mourns in a
You may cry hysterically
you may remain outwardly controlled,
showing little emotion.
You may lash out in anger against
your family and friends,
you may express your gratitude
for their dedication.
You may be calm one moment –
in turmoil the next.
Reactions are varied and
Grief is universal.
At the same time it
is extremely personal.
Heal in your own way.
– Elisabeth Eliot
I also wanted to share some quotes that have put to words what I’m feeling, or brought me comfort:
“There’s a good reason for entering fully into one’s sorrow. Once you have experienced the seriousness of your los, you will be able to experience the wonder of being alive.”
“Grief is a statement – a statement that you loved someone.”
“When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought joy to my soul.” – Psalm 94:19
“… like having a tree that has been growing in one’s heart yanked out by it’s roots, leaving a gaping whole or wound.”
“Desperate is my wound. My grief is great. My sickness is incurable, but I must bear it.” – Jeremiah 10:19
And, lastly, Jesus’ promise…
“I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn while the world rejoices. You will grieve, but your grief will turn to joy.” – John 16:20
Grief is a journey. There is no question. I miss Praise beyond what words could express. I miss my friend; her laugh, her words of wisdom, her prayers, her sincerity. I miss what could have been, and now will never be.
While I was home I spent some time on the beach in Santa Barbara – one of Praise’s favorite places. I journaled about our friendship – from our first date at McCormick and Schmick’s, to our last hoorah in Phuket. Because Praise has changed me. Her presence in my life has shaped me. And my hope is that in this process of grief I remember her. I cherish her. And that I learn to recognize the incredible impact she had on my life. The legacy that she left through the way she loved.