"So This is What This Feels Like"

posted by Jillian Alfaro | Aug 29, 2021

“So this is what this feels like.” This phrase bounced all around inside my head as I lay awake three weeks before my mother’s death. Cancerous tumors had spread all over her brain, some growing to the size of apricots. This was it, after twenty months of praying for miraculous healing, the path was clear. God was choosing to heal my mother in heaven instead of here on earth. She was going to leave soon, and I would be left here on earth, without her.

“So this is what this feels like.” This phrase pounding in my head as I drove home from Seattle, the same morning my mother passed away. Nagging in my mind as I planned Mom’s funeral, resisting the urge to simply run away. Screaming in my brain as we buried her, and drove away where she is now at rest.

“So this is what this feels like.” This phrase spiraling and returning again and again and again in years one and two without her. A holiday, that event, this moment, that memory, all creating searing and scarring reminders that I was living without my mom. Anguish, anger, agitation, darkness, desperation, tears, fears, sadness, grief. Like a mad, swirling storm, I was caught in a sepia tornado like that of Dorothy’s in The Wizard of Oz. My grief consumed my life and took away the color of my world and made daily living scary, frightening and lifeless.

“So this is what this feels like.” This phrase rattled against my cranium as I walked into my first Griefshare class at Bethel. Fear consumed me... would I be brave enough to tackle the despair that easily engulfed my entire being? Would I be judged? Would anyone understand? Would I be able to face and accept the loss of my mother and finally choose to take the first steps towards healing? My mind soaked up knowledge, education, reality, acceptance, hope and a renewed sense of faith. What might my life feel like if I allowed the healing power of Jesus to confront my grief head on?

“So this is what this feels like.” This phrase has sung a new song in my mind and heart since I stepped out of my last Griefshare class. I have learned, practiced and believed that my life is not over. Jesus has healed the depths of my anguished and tortured heart. No longer am I a slave to my grief, but I am standing as a conqueror and at peace in the palms of my Savior’s hands. Griefshare has shown me how I can live through grief, honoring my mother’s life, while maintaining my own freedom in Christ, here on earth. A new song of thankfulness and praise has continued to radiate out of my life. The musical notes of hope, faith, peace, and security believing my Savior knows my story and will always use it for His glory. Jesus is not finished with me yet.

“I will praise the LORD all my life; I will sing to my God as long as I live.” Psalm 146:2 

Jillian Finkbeiner is the current online facilitator for Bethel’s Griefshare program. After the loss of her mother in 2015, Jillian’s grief journey was one of darkness until she attended Bethel’s Griefshare courses. Now, as a facilitator, Jillian knows full well the agony and silent sufferings that accompany grief. Her mission in the ministry is to provide a private and confidential space for those who grieve silently; and the simple reminder that even in our deepest grief, our lives are not yet finished, in Christ.

Bethel's next Griefshare class will run September 14 through November 16th (Tuesdays) from 7-8PM on Zoom. Register online at Bethel.ch/register

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