Tell God your True Feelings in the Midst of Grief

Those heartbreak-inducing words: “I have cancer.”

My mother’s solemn announcement contrasted starkly with the warmer-than-typical spring day. Sunshine smiled on my flesh, but my heart wasn’t laughing at the cruel joke. My stepdad stared at his feet while my eyes bulged in shock.

But Mom lifted her chin, stalwart as ever. “God’s going to heal me,” she declared with conviction.

Mom was the strongest woman I knew. If anyone could beat cancer, it would be her. So I clung to her words.

The oncologist treated Mom’s lymphoma twice with chemotherapy, and when the disease threatened to come out of remission for the third time, he recommended an experimental stem cell transplant. It nearly killed her, but the possibility of three to five years reprieve seemed worth the risk.

And it might have been if Mom’s bone marrow had recovered and begun producing healthy blood cells. Instead, her quarterly infusions became monthly and finally, she would get about five good days after receiving a platelet infusion.

Five days to live followed by a collapse of energy. When she tried to ignore the fatigue, she ended up in the hospital.

My driven mother, a perfectionist in constant motion, reduced to this? The unfairness crushed my spirit.

Then came the appointment that stole what remained of our hope.

Despite the infusions, her counts kept dropping. She told the oncologist she was tired of fighting this way. He reminded her there was only one other alternative.

The doctor’s message, delivered with a somber-eyed look in my direction, shattered me.

Yes, I wept. Then he sent us to the hospital, where she was admitted, IV fluids barely raising her blood pressure enough for one last transfusion.

Words I learned to hate that day: “You realize there’s a DNR, right?”

Every single healthcare professional that walked into my mother’s hospital room asked the same question.

“Yes, I’m aware it means do not resuscitate and that you won’t bring her back if she flatlines.” I wanted to scream at them, “My mother is dying!”

Even worse was the realization she was done fighting to keep living. Because I wasn’t ready for her to go.

At home again, now under hospice care, well-meaning visitors murmured, “You’re so lucky to have this time with her.”

Lucky? This felt more like a canning jar exploding under pressure.

Two excruciating weeks later, I stood helpless as her final breath escaped. Listening to her breath rasp in those final hours shredded my heart and soul.

Heartbreak seems too gentle a word. How could I remain standing when my pillar of strength became a vacant shell?

God never gives us more than we can handle without providing a way of escape. For me, that salvation was collapsing nightly in my husband’s arms, weeping and railing.

I poured out all the things I held in when I was with Mom, because she didn’t need to hear it. Instead, I made jokes. She rolled her eyes at them, but it was the only way I kept from shattering.

I’d love to say God’s strength showed up when I needed it. But that would be false. Or at least, it felt false at the time.

Why? Because I was furious with God.

I craved his help but felt only fury that He let her suffer, refused to heal her, took her too soon. I’d been told anger towards God is sinful. But bottling up emotions severed me from my Source.

When I finally couldn’t pretend I was okay any longer, I let the dam of emotion break in my Father’s throne room. And in admitting my anger and sense of betrayal, in giving those emotions to him, I was freed from a debilitating weight. God’s love rushed to fill the gaping void left in my soul.

I handed God my bitterness, and he whispered, “I love you. Feel better getting that off your chest?”

The moral of my heartbreak story: don’t be afraid to tell God your true feelings.

He made your emotions, so they are not wrong (no matter what other people may say). Admit them to Him with honest vulnerability. Relinquish them, and he will replace them with love.

God is love, and the strength of his love mends even the heartbreak of deepest loss.

Sharon has published sweet and Christian romances, biblical fiction, contemporary women’s fiction, and Bible study books. Her latest release, The Promised Plan, is inspired by her grief journey. She writes, edits, and coaches writers at her home on the Columbia River in Oregon where she enjoys being outdoors, crocheting, and traveling with her husband. With two grown sons living nearby, she often spoils her four grandchildren, much to the chagrin of her entitled cats. Find all her books and services at www.sharonhughson.com

6 Comments

  1. Augustina Timchuk on August 3, 2023 at 5:30 am

    Thank you. I again recognized my holding on to disappointment, anger, bitterness for not dealing well with my husband three years after his stroke. This blog share brought tears to my eyes. I see others in harder situations and this makes my reactions seem that much worse. I am 66 and he is 75. He was so strong and vibrant and rode a Harley which I was a frequent passenger on. Bouts of his depression cycles mixed with mine were copable (or so I would tell myself). It wasn’t until June of 1986 when I surrendered to Jesus that life started to become bearable. Now years later I find myself telling Him this isn’t what I signed up for. Funny I know but not really. Clinging to His joy to dance over the sadness. BLESS you and live life strong. Augustina



    • Jodi Rosser on August 5, 2023 at 10:42 am

      Praying for you Augustina! I am so sorry for your husband’s stroke.



    • Sharon Hughson on August 8, 2023 at 12:27 pm

      Sending hugs, Augustina.
      I am the world’s worst caregiver. When my in-laws stayed without between selling their home and his admittance to a memory care facility, I completely shut down.
      I wish I could say the grief experience I shared above had taught me all the lessons I needed about living gracefully in hard times, but, sadly, no.
      Thank you for commenting about your real struggles, and I hope the tears from this post were healing tears.
      Sharon



  2. Laurel on August 3, 2023 at 7:23 am

    Thanks for sharing your hurt and anger and optimism with us.



    • Jodi Rosser on August 5, 2023 at 10:41 am

      Yes, grateful for Sharon’s vulnerability!



    • Sharon Hughson on August 8, 2023 at 12:29 pm

      Laurel, I truly believe that the best way to minister to others is to authentically share our struggles. Thanks for reading.
      Sharon



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