in the dark with our demons

It’s a line from a song by The Oh Hellos called “I Have Made Mistakes.” It made sense before I felt broken in two, before the day I met grief, but it makes more sense now that demons are trying to live in my dark.

Demons, like returning to a regular job and navigating crowded city streets and breathing in slow, evening minutes that seem painfully unaltered by Will’s absence. Demons that stare at me in the lamplit dark of this little apartment and whisper things like, “What are you doing in this city?” and “Why Will?” and “Why don’t you feel like being productive or looking presentable?” Demons.

But I keep hearing these words from the sermon at Will’s service last Friday,
“Death is not normal.”

Nothing is normal now, except grief headaches pushing like bricks on my ears. Apartment hunting is different, marriage is different, sunshine is different, morning is different and friendship is different. I am different.

I am different and things won’t get better because we were not created to die. We were created to live. Being alive is normal. Ten days ago, I could pretend that living was normal here on earth; I could pretend that everyone has time to dream and time to be lazy and time to have time. And then I answered an ominous phone call and drove across the country with my husband to hug a line of 450 people who loved my brother Will.

We are not forever young because we are not forever. It’s a hard thing to reconcile, really. Will was not forever and I am not forever, but it feels like we should be – like we should have indefinite time to plan adventures and let laugh lines mark our faces.

We were made for life, so that is the “normal” we crave. But, in our sin we chose death, so that is the normal we face.

We severed that eternal thread when we decided to go our own way, but I have never yearned for life more than right now. I have never longed for eternity or ached for God’s perfect “normal” than I do these days. I am holding tightly to the belief that Christ came to restore that order.

The normal we crave vs. the normal we face. The tension of the two is trying to break me in the dark with my demons – trying to make a defeated sluggard out of me.

I feel like I got painted into a watercolor and left out in the rain. I have made mistakes in my mourning and I’ll continue to make them. I’ll be impatient and silent and stubborn. I will refuse to look presentable and I will forget my manners. But I will not pretend to be strong. I will not pretend that we were created to die, that this “circle of life” is just “how it has to be.” I want God’s normal – the way He created Adam and Eve originally in the garden, before their decision to eat that rotten fruit and before my sin claimed the same rotten fate.

Sometimes the only thing keeping you from being defeated is believing you are not.

And I believe. Simple sermons are okay, I think, like this one my aunt sent me last night from Deuteronomy 33:27, “underneath are the everlasting arms.” The everlasting arms holding me up also defeated the demons in my dark and made a place for me in heaven.

Find all the writings on grief at this link and join with us as we mourn in hope.

11 thoughts on “in the dark with our demons

  1. Continuing to lift you and your family up in prayer! It was so great to chat briefly and HUG you! May God be your refuge and strength.

    1. Thank you so much for your prayers, Anna. Seriously, we are feeling held up by the prayers of the faithful. And we know you get to meet with Jesus on our behalf, which is precious. Blessings.

  2. Caroline, my heart hurts for you because I’ve been right where you are. I lost my younger sister Lianne too soon, first to an inoperable brain aneurysm at 28 that left her forever changed and then 12 years later to death. Eleven years have passed and for the most part those awful, questioning, gut-wrenching WHY??! demons are no longer tormenting me. I’ll always have tender spots in my heart, but now instead of causing constant pain they allow God’s healing Light to shine through and give comfort to others as He comforts me. He will do this for you too. He will help you want to get dressed and get back to “normal” living, He will ease your grief headaches, and He will walk you through every day until you are reunited with your beloved brother.

    That’s because we are not alone in the dark with our demons. Never alone. Which means the dark is not completely dark and the demons are not our only companions. Our Companion is there and that makes all the difference. You know this already, which will help you even more. Relax in His arms and let Him smooth your brow, speak soothingly to you, count your tears, and hold you until you can stand up under the weight of this awful new reality. Be still and know that He is God.

    Blessings and love to you,
    Laurie Heath

    P.S. You don’t know me but I found your blog while doing a daily search for mentions of The Oh Hellos, who just happen to be my kids Tyler and Maggie. I’m so thankful that their music is providing comfort to you today.

    1. Laurie,
      I have read over your words so many times since you wrote them. You understand terrible, I can tell. But you are so sweet and so wise to point me to comfort: we are not alone. God has not abandoned us to darkness because He is a promise keeper. He has never broken a promise and he didn’t start with the death of my brother. He loves him now and has provided exactly what he needs. He loves Will’s wife Grace and in this moment is providing all she needs according to His riches (boundless supply). This is not only if God is having a good day… it’s who He is. I take great comfort in knowing He will never change. His provision is always perfect, His way is always best. Thank you for your words – clear and true and such a comfort.

      “…let Him smooth your brow, speak soothingly to you, count your tears, and hold you until you can stand up under the weight of this awful new reality. Be still and know that He is God.”

      Please tell your kids their album is on repeat in our little apartment. We are being comforted, but we are also stretching out to dance to the beat of the guitar strums. We are so thankful for their music.

      1. Lord Jesus, You are so good! Thank You for being the Light of the world and shining through words and heart cries and melodies and choruses and rhythms and shared terribleness and surprising joys. Continue to use the expressions of Your servants to draw together Your Body throughout the world!

    2. I can attest to what Caroline shared. Your words are healing Truth and the album playing in our apartment is pouring peace into our hearts. Many, many thanks to you.

      1. This goodness overwhelms me! You are most welcome and thank YOU, Tam!

        And it you haven’t heard this new song from their upcoming album (based on CS Lewis’ Screwtape Letters), may it bring your home an even greater measure of peace. It has mine. 🙂

  3. One day at a time…and one day you notice you are better than you were the day before. It will come–I promise. More importantly, God promises. We are fervently praying for you and your family. Love and peace.

  4. Laurie, I wish you could visit our homes and speak hope to us. It’s so helpful to talk to people who have felt this pain and survived. It seems the rest of the world pushes to ‘get past it’ and ‘remember truth’ and ‘be strong,’ but all of that seems impossible. Thank you for taking the time to encourage us and validate this destruction we feel. We are grateful. -Christina Nichols, Will’s sister

    1. I wish we could visit in person too, Christina, but I’m glad my written words have been of some comfort. People only try to hurry along others’ grieving because they feel helpless and heartbroken to see us in pain. Sadly, it takes living through our own grief to be able to sit with others in theirs. I’m praying for you as God tenderly and steadfastly rebuilds what has been destroyed. Take all the time you need to mourn your great loss. Love to you and all of Will’s treasured ones. XO

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