November Perspective | Waves of Grief

So, you’ve walked out your grief journey as diligently and thoroughly as you possibly can. You’ve done the “grief” work. You’ve followed the instructions your grief group provided, along with the many books you’ve consumed on the subject. When all appears well you’re suddenly blind sighted by a wave of grief as something triggers a memory. You either freeze, get knocked over or embrace the moment.

These waves can happen often, and sometimes they may overtake you. Horatio Spafford described it well in the familiar hymn, IT IS WELL.  After the deaths of his four daughters at sea, he penned, “When sorrows like sea billows roll…”

Recently, while on vacation at the ocean and playing in waves, I discovered rather fast that tides can suddenly change, causing the waves to become unmanageable. I specifically learned to never turn my back on the sea! After riding a few waves I thought I had everything under control. It was then that I turned around to see if my husband was watching when I got caught off guard by a billowing wave. It dumped me head first, looping me several times around my boogie board before landing on my feet again. As I surfaced the water my son was by my side and said, “Mom, you alright? Do you need help?” After gaining my equilibrium and composure, and the assurance of his presence, I opted to get out of the water and enjoy the waves from a safer vantage point.

On this same vacation, I experienced another wave. Only this was a wave of grief that Spafford so articulately described in his song as a rolling “sea billow”.

We were at the same resort with my son and his family that we had spent time at with our daughters just months before they died. There is a choice of four pools at this resort. This day we were in the one that held many memories of the girls. The others were swimming, talking, or relaxing so I allowed my thoughts to go back in time with Jessica to this very pool. 

 At first, I tried to ignore the memories.  But they were too vivid. I could see Jess standing in the water behind the fountain, then diving under it before performing her underwater handstand. Finally, I swam a lap of the pool imagining she was swimming right beside me as before. A tear fell from my eyes as I positioned my arms on the edge of the pool as we had once done while blowing water from our mouths. Only now, the water poured from eyes, and I began weeping uncontrollably.

I must stop! But the sea billow had already swept over me, and all I could do was to wait till it subsided. Suddenly, a butterfly landed poolside, close to where my arm was resting. Jessica loved butterflies. God had provided many such sightings of these beautiful creatures before to bring me comfort. Here was yet one more. Tears streamed from my eyes at the sight of this beauty. 

Stepping out of the water I moved swiftly to the bathroom. A refuge to calm down my stirred up emotions. Suddenly the outside door opened and there stood my daughter-in-law. 

Just as Joey had offered his help in the waves, Bree’s presence there in the bathroom brought me comfort. She asked, “Are you OK?” I went on to explain my journey back into time. With tears in her eyes, she said, “There are a lot of good memories here, aren’t there? Then we both cried and embraced. 

Had I not embraced this wave, I’d have missed the sweet comfort of these warm and explicit memories along with the butterfly sent from God. I would also have missed a very special moment of comfort allowing someone very dear to me to share in my pain.

Grief is not something to be ignored, endured, hid, or to be done with. It is a day to day journey where you need to be present in each moment. We grieve because we love. We need to allow ourselves to be human, accepting the touch from not only God—but other humans as well.

I’d love to hear from you, so please scroll down and leave me a comment. 

Please remember that you are eternally loved. There was no beginning and there will be no end to God’s love for you!

Debbie L. Mayer



  1. Edna Sutliff November 1, 2018 at 6:09 pm - Reply

    I remember SO WELL when you came to Arrowhead Bible Camp in WI and shared your family’s story with us of loosing your 3 daughters. I was amazed that you could even get through that weekend, and your songs deeply touched my heart, as I know the others were touched also. I cannot even imagine going through that kind of pain, but your songs, along with remembering why “It is well with my soul” was written made me see, without a shadow of doubt, that God’s love, grace and mercy are sufficient for ANYTHING! My prayer is that you will continue to minister to others who are also grieving and that God’s gifts to you will continue to sustain you and your family. May His love continue to guide you in all things.
    In Christ and His love,
    Edna Sutliff

    • Debbie Mayer November 1, 2018 at 7:20 pm - Reply

      Edna…I remember you. Thank you for the feedback. Yes, His Grace IS sufficient!!!

  2. Lisa Morrison November 1, 2018 at 6:12 pm - Reply

    “We grieve because we LOVE.”

    >>>Yes!!!<<< To the depth we loved, we grieve!

    Such a moving piece you shared.. the butterfly…!!

    Thank you!
    (Julie's friend, Lisa)

  3. Debbie Mayer November 1, 2018 at 7:23 pm - Reply

    Thank you Lisa. God is faithful and touches us with gifts from Heaven. Blessings to you!

  4. Mary Bayer November 3, 2018 at 7:14 am - Reply

    I’m struck with the beauty of how God meets us in our griefs and struggles by bringing people along side us. He could answer our prayers in private, individual ways, and sometimes He does, by speaking to our heart through His Word. But when He sends other people to step in to minister His love to us , we receive the added blessing of deepened relationship. Then we are all enriched and blessed by greater intimacy and friendship. I’m so grateful for you and Joe doing just that very thing for Bob and I this week! Eternally grateful.

    • Debbie Mayer November 3, 2018 at 7:45 am - Reply

      Beautifully said Mary! I think the beauty of it is that being made in His inage, that is the way God designed us to function. So … we ALL recieve when we come alongside others. God is blessed, and both the giver and reciever are because His love is a river and a fountain. It flows. We love you guys!

  5. Patti Stigman November 8, 2018 at 7:42 am - Reply

    Debbie, this moved me to tears and I admire you so much for your loving spirit and transparency!! Thank you for sharing your experiences.

    Love you,

    • Debbie Mayer November 8, 2018 at 7:50 am - Reply

      Thank you and Bless you dear Patti!

  6. Arlene Lageson November 8, 2018 at 12:54 pm - Reply

    Thank you for this Debbie…for allowing your story to encourage others who are grieving. You’re a gifted communicator.

    • Debbie Mayer November 8, 2018 at 4:45 pm - Reply

      Thankyou Arlene! I believe when God gives you a story, you need to be faithful to share it in ways youre able. I hope you are doing well.

  7. Jenna November 11, 2018 at 6:13 am - Reply

    I was wondering if this Timeshare you guys went to was the same one you went to with the girls. I now know it was. I can relate to those waves of grief Aunt Debbie.. just missing my Mom & the way life “used to be”. I have a tendency to hide when I cry & shove my tears away not wanting anyone to see me bc I feel weak but you help remind me it’s only natural & human & I like what you said, we grieve because we love. Thanks
    For sharing your heart again. I love you.

    • Debbie Mayer August 20, 2019 at 8:19 pm - Reply

      You are welcome Jenna. And yes, it was the same place as with the girls. And yes, you need to enter your grief and pain to be in a place to receive healing. Love you Jenna!

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