One of the men in one of my groups said he is surprised “by the arbitrariness of the rollercoaster” of emotions. A perfect description! The emotions of grief are certainly like a rollercoaster: sometimes you are up, then come crashing down in a split second. Up and down, fast moving and sudden changes, twists and turns, and surprises. It is arbitrary because you don’t know when a change is coming. Your daily emotional status will change in an instant because of a sound, some music coming over the radio, a smell, a sight, or nothing you can discern at all, just another twist and sudden fall of your grief. Our Creator knows about this swirl of feelings. He has recorded a couple descriptions of these feelings in the Psalms:
Have mercy on me, Lord, for I am faint; heal me, Lord, for my bones are in agony. My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long?
I am worn out from my groaning.
All night long I flood my bed with weeping and drench my couch with tears. My eyes grow weak with sorrow; Psalm 6:2-3,6-7
…I am in distress; my eyes grow weak with sorrow, my soul and body with grief. My life is consumed by anguish and my years by groaning; my strength fails because of my affliction, and my bones grow weak. Psalm 31: 9-10
Here is a list of what the author, David, records in these poems.
- His body: eyes, bones, weakness, soul.
- His behavior: weeping, tears, groaning, faint, fatigue (worn out).
- His feelings: agony, anguish, sorrow, grief, affliction.
Grief is messy and full of surprises! Sometimes it is heavy, like feeling the exaggerated G-force when going around a fast turn on the rollercoaster.
The safety features of the rollercoaster are the brakes and the restraint device that keeps you in your seat. God’s safety features for you in grief are found in His character:
Be merciful to me, Lord, Psalm 31-9a
Turn, Lord, and deliver me; save me because of your unfailing love. Psalm 6:4
God’s character is the solution. His mercy and love - you can rely on them. These psalms are poems that describe real life feelings of grief. Remember that these poems have been recorded and kept in God’s love letter to you, the Bible! He is telling you He understands the grief experience – your experience on the rollercoaster of grief.