May 04, 2014

A Journey through Grief, by Natasha Erskine

 (Photo taken August 2012)

For the last 20 months, I have been blogging through a season of grief. After my husband died suddenly in the Fall of 2012, I found that writing was a tremendous emotional release and catalyst for processing the hard truths, questions, doubts, and fears… Posting these writings in an online blog seemed to provide an opportunity for me to bring many loved ones along for the journey. In so doing, I discovered that everyone grieves. Grief is something that every human being experiences in one form or another, but few recognize or acknowledge it. In allowing others to see into my private ponderings, raw agony, and wrestlings with the deep questions of life, I discovered that I was giving expression to the same thoughts and struggles others were having but didn't feel the freedom to express… As much as my writing was focused on my own journey and process through grief and by faith, an unexpected blessing that occurred was the community of brokenness* that bound grieving hearts together as one, from different places around the globe.

*community of brokenness is a phrase Jerry Sittser uses in his book, A Grace Disguised, How the Soul Grows Through Loss.

Grief is not something I see myself writing about long term, though it will most certainly impact all of my writings as it has forever altered my human experience, my perspective, my approach to life and faith… But for now, compiling these blogs and finding a way to tell my story seems to be about my own journey toward healing. Through writing, I process through the up and down emotions of grief. I process through all that has happened, what it means, and where that leaves my faith, values, relationships, and trust in God. Through writing, I accomplish some of what John W. James and Russell Friedman in The Grief Recovery Handbook call a journey to completeness, where everything left "undone" in the wake of death, every emotion, relational tension, every thought, etc. must be carried forth to a place of completion before a person can truly move on into a life of wholeness and completeness. This does not suggest that the loss will not still be present or felt on some level, but it suggests a healing that leaves the bereaved in a healthy state both mentally and emotionally, and able to look back and recognize the good and the bad, the things we miss and the things we don't miss, the things we long to have again and the things we rejoice in having or experiencing in a new life or new normal…

Compiling these writings and fitting them together as a whole has been quite a challenge for me. I question what to include and what not to include, what is too intimate and what is not intimate enough?? I question the order, how I organize the writings to form a coherent or thematic pattern… As one fellow writer advised, It is not the story you have to decide on, you already have your story. Now you must choose HOW to tell it. And I question how to be honest in representing the great, though human, man my husband was on the earth. I believe that it is most honouring to my husband to tell the honest truth about our life and marriage together, but then I think, How would this make his family feel? How would other loved ones feel if I wrote about something not so positive in representing the man they knew and loved??

Ultimately, I wonder, how do I continue to honour God with my life story? Can my story of grief and healing and faith in God impact the world around me for good? Donald Miller talks about Redemptive Suffering, when we see suffering as the evil that it is, but also discover goodness where it can be found. He tells the story of Viktor Frankl and how he transcended suffering in the concentration camps, leading others to do the same, in a sense, overcoming evil with good (Romans 12:21).

In the next few months, I intend to have the first rough draft complete and ready for further editing. I am excited to complete this work, ready to move on in some respects out of the depths of journeying through grief. But also richly blessed to discover the goodness that God might do in and though my life as time keeps pushing me forward…

I am happy and anxious to hear any comments, nuggets of wisdom, guiding words of experience from other writer's or fellow readers. Please do share :).

My blog can be found at Lead Me in the Way Everlasting (Psalm 139:24)


  1. Natasha,
    Deeply touched to know a little of your journey through grief. I like how God is working through you to heal you and others.
    Many blessings as you write for Him,

  2. Many thanks for your comment in my post "Los valores de la Danza". I wrote this post with my mother. I´m 11 years old. I like to read. I participated in a reading contest in my country and won the first place. I used to visit a Child Library in my country.

  3. Natasha,
    Your words brought back a myriad of memories from the time we lost a baby, many years ago. As you express so well, it is necessary to put words to our grief. Writing and sharing about it helps others by giving them words for their own journey.

    For me, I discovered that telling my story over and over served to take this extraordinary event and bring it into the ordinary, so I could now bear to carry it.

    I learned that we don't 'get over' the loss of someone. Instead, we build spiritual and emotional strength to carry that loss while honouring them. That's why we are changed when we lose someone close. And change is okay.

    May God continue to bless you as you write, and may he use your words to bless many others.


  4. Thank you for sharing a little of your journey with us. May God give you wisdom as you compile your writings, and may he use your words to bring healing to many.
    Pam Mytroen

  5. thank you for sharing. I am sure your story will have great impact for those going through a similar situation.

  6. I don't know how I stumbled upon this post. Life is so unpredictable. Your husband looked so young, healthy and alive in the photo. Your girls are beautiful. You are really strong. I don't know how I can deal with loss like this. I haven't experienced any deaths except my 100 year old great grandpa last year.

    After reading your post, I feel truly grateful for my life. I'm definitely going to nag my husband much less from now on.

  7. Natasha,
    Thanks for sharing a little of your heart as you've been going through the grieving process. I must confess I've never had anyone that close die so I can't imagine what the last 2 years have been like for you. But I am thankful for people like you who are willing to share their hearts. May God give you His wisdom and strength so that you will be able to write what He wants you to write.

  8. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, questions and concerns. You are facing something I have not. My prayers are with you. Keep writing and most certainly God will provide you with the wisdom to know what to reveal and what to keep private.

  9. Natasha, already your words have made an impact. 'Ordinary' wrote: "After reading your post, I feel truly grateful for my life." Even your questions and ability to be vulnerable has stirred a soul. And by the tone of other comments, too, your situation and response helps us on our own private journeys. Honesty with compassion is the key. Bless you as you journey on and thank you for sharing a little of your heart.

  10. It's been exactly that length of time since our 18-yr-old son was killed. I sat down once and wrote a few pages but my thoughts stumbled over themselves and I gave up. Gradually a theme is taking shape, but the same questions and objections (about what others who loved him will think if I give my take on him) keep hindering me. Thank you for your vulnerability and blessed honesty.


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