With three, simple words the psalmist captures what it can be like when your head hits the pillow as you suffer: “I lie awake” (Psalm 102:7).
Grief doesn’t sleep – so neither do you.
In the first couple of months following my son’s death, I had to distract myself in the darkness until I could no longer keep my eyes open. I only slept at the point of utter exhaustion. Only recently has this changed, but the sleep I manage to get is rarely restful.
Job experienced this assault in his misery, too. “When I lie down I say, ‘When shall I rise?’ But the night is long, and I am full of tossing till the dawn” (Job 7:4). Later, he gets more descriptive. “The night racks my bones and the pain that gnaws me gives no rest” (Job 30:17).
And while one psalmist promises that “the Lord gives to his beloved sleep” (Ps. 127:2), another stares upward from his bed and holds God responsible for his restlessness: “You hold my eyelids open” (Ps. 77:4). Rest is a gift both given and withheld, yet another thing that can be taken in a litany of other losses.
The exhaustion of grief is exhaustive, depleting you emotionally, spiritually, and physically. Your body – along with your heart, mind, and soul – struggles to find peace in the chaos. The storm of suffering continues its clanging even in the silence of the night.
Yet God’s word recognizes our weariness and invites us to lament through our sleeplessness. When we lie awake we do not need to lie silent. And though the next sunrise may not lighten the distress, the darkness will one day give way to dawn.