Louie and I were out walking in the brisk morning air when what should our wondering eyes behold! The turkey is back! And he’s bigger than ever!

Many of you will remember that awhile back I talked about the flock of turkeys in our neighborhood and how they were in so many ways like those things that come into our lives to annoy, disturb, or even threaten us! Well, to update you on that situation, the turkeys have been relocated to a new area…all but one. No one is quite sure how he missed the bus, but he’s here alone now. At first, we felt sorry for him…. until he cleaned out all the birdfeeders and scared away the cardinals! He disappeared for long stretches of time, but mating season is here again, and he seems to think he’ll find the turkey harem in our backyards. So, he wanders about occasionally making an appearance on my deck to check the birdfeeder again.

You may wonder why I’m talking about the turkey again, so let me share my thoughts on this situation. These turkeys have been very much mirroring what has happened to the grief in my life over the past four years I’ve lived here. I bought this townhouse, sold our home of twenty years, and moved exactly one year after Dave’s passing. When I moved in, there was a huge flock of thirteen turkeys who wandered our yards from early morning until dusk. There’s an undeveloped woods just behind my back fence, and those turkeys would roost through the night in the trees that nearly overhang my yard.

They were big, ugly, destructive, and intimidating. When the whole flock approached at once, they could paralyze people and dogs … well, people anyway … with their boldness. They attacked their own reflections on the patio doors and were altogether bothersome. (But then, there were a couple of neighbors who loved them, and encouraged them to hang around by feeding them corn!) When they were relocated, there was peace in the neighborhood…until the straggler started appearing from time to time to see if anyone would welcome him. And, of course, there were one or two who did!

May I suggest to you that grief behaves in much the same way? A widow initially finds herself surrounded by a flock of emotions. These feelings are bold and intimidating. These “birds” have names: fear, anxiety, loneliness, brain fog, sleeplessness, insecurity, indecision, and loss of identity and self-confidence. Even when they are not actively visible, it seems they are roosting nearby in the darkness.

The good news is that eventually the “flock” will relocate, and most widows will refocus their lives, finding purpose and joy in a new season. But just like that one lone turkey, grief occasionally comes to visit, even years later – still looking for a place to eat, or rest, or just be in your life again. Those old feelings can flood over you from time to time but be aware that they are only temporary. They are just passing by to see if you will let them stay.

When grief comes to call, we have a couple of choices. We can feed it, ruminate on it, and choose to stay living in the past and all that we’ve lost. Or we can acknowledge its presence but keep our focus on what still may lie ahead, and all that we still have to be grateful for. Focusing on the problem without taking some kind of action never moves us ahead. God is always calling us to the future!

If you struggle with recurring waves of grief, let me assure you of two things: first, this is completely normal; second, the wave will pass. The more you focus on it, the more all-consuming it will become. Acknowledge the grief, but know that the flood will pass, and that the waves will recede. Eventually they will appear less and less often, and the memories that are so sharp and painful initially will soften and be thought of with love and even joy.

There are some wonderful promises in God’s Word about both grief and joy. They assure us that even though grief comes for a time, it will surely be followed by joy. If you are in a place where you don’t think that will ever happen, you’re normal. But the truth is that the grief will pass, and your life will find stability again. Listen to these promises:

Psalms 30:11 – “You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness,”

John 16:20 – “Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy.”

1 Thessalonians 4:13-14 – “But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.”

As always, your thoughts and comments are welcome here or you can email me at sheryl@freshhope.us. If you’re looking for a new purpose and a pathway to move ahead, please consider joining one of our Refocusing Widows groups, either in person or online. We look forward to meeting you!

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