Performance While Grieving

emotions faith grief peace processing Nov 13, 2023

Grief is a weird but necessary part of life. No one escapes this emotion. Grief is a deep sorrow, especially caused by someones death. It's strange too because different people handle this process very differently. If you've ever experienced grief, then you're aware of how complex it can be at times. One minute you're laughing, feeling strong, the next minute you're sobbing hysterically. You feel like a crazy person. It doesn't make any logical sense.


At 37, I've experienced the loss of all four grandparents, a best friend in my early twenties, and now both parents in the same year. With each loss, the process was different. Today, I'm going to share about this most recent one, losing my mom.


It was the first time, where I caught my tendency to "perform well" creep into my grief process. My mom passed last Sunday. It happened faster than we anticipated. There were many things I'd left unsaid, time with her I pushed aside for later we never got, and resentment that hadn't been worked through. 


This loss has hit me harder than any of them and caught me completely off guard. I didn't think losing my mom would be the hardest one because of the self-protecting I'd done, over the years, in our relationship. 

As death does. It's the raw finality that reveals those hidden truths and unacknowledged emotions. 


I've had several days I truly thought I was solid, there wasn't much sadness or anger coming up. So, I assumed I'd be coasting through this grieving process being able to maintain normal life. After I flew home, from being with my siblings and mom during her last hours, I experienced the unexpected waves of deep sorrow. I sobbed and sobbed. 


I noticed thinking, "This grief is acceptable as long as it doesn't last into the work week when I need to be productive and back to normal". It was a sneaky thought that felt true. 


Then this morning, Jake and I went to grab coffee, after a long weekend with our sick toddler. We wanted to check in with each other before we rushed into the week. We hadn't been able to catch our breathe since I'd gotten back. 


I sat across from him, tears running down my face, "I want to be sure I do this grief process the right way. I don't want it to last too long or overwhelm me too much." That statement seemed logical to me but Jake noticed it right away. 


"You're being tempted to perform well at grieving the loss of your mom. It's ok, it's our human tendency but there isn't a right way to grieve. You can take as long as you need."


On one hand, his words were medicine to my aching heart but on the other side, it felt irresponsible and unsafe. 

This revelation, inspired by my wise husband, helped me realize how much fear I was living from.

  • The fear that I wouldn't be able to handle the grief this time. 
  • The fear of failing at being a wife, mom, and business owner while I took time to grieve.
  • The fear of being in this season for a longer period of time than I wanted.
  • The fear of becoming so self-focused that no one wants to be around me. 


The list continues but it was the realization that fear was driving me back into a performance-based mindset and adding unnecessary suffering.

The performance mindset I'm referring to is that your worth is attached to how well you execute. I must earn my worthiness by being a good wife, mom and business owner based on performing in such a way, otherwise I'm failure. It's a big LIE. We don't earn our worth, we receive our worth in Jesus Christ alone, and the rest flows FROM that. 


This afternoon, I chose to take a walk by the lake to be alone and talk to God. He graciously reminded me that I was loved just as I am, that He wants to just BE with me, and I can trust Him to walk me through this difficult process. 


I'm so grateful for this enlightening revelation, so I can grieve the way I need without adding stress or fear. 

Maybe you're not dealing with grief, but it's another difficult emotion- disappointment, dread, discouragement, etc.

Are you requiring good performance in order to please Him or feel worthy? 

If so, then I invite you to say this prayer:

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for sending Your Son Jesus to die on the cross for my sins, so I could receive the Spirit of Adoption and a new identity in Christ. I confess I've allowed fear to drive my actions recently and trying to control everything to earn Your love and love of others. In Jesus Name I break agreement with fear and earning love. I ask for Your love to encounter me in new ways this week. Amen. 

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