As I woke up this morning, I had a picture in my head of grief being like a gift. I know that sounds strange, but it’s true. It’s a gift that no one really wants, but we all receive at some point. Some of us receive it earlier in life. Some receive it more often. But if you ever love anyone, chances are, you will receive the gift of grief somewhere along the way. My grief is wrapped up in a beautiful box. Early in my grief journey, I carried it with me everywhere I went. It was heavy and it consumed every moment of every day. It invaded every decision, every action, every move I made. I couldn’t escape it. I couldn’t go into Wal Mart without carrying this giant gift with me. It was weighty and cumbersome. I felt like everyone was looking at me and my conspicuous package. I felt like I had “Grieving Mom” tattooed across my forehead. I would think, “Yes, I’m the one… the mom of the one you read about in the newspaper last weekend. She was my sunshine and my delight and now she’s gone. I am her grieving mother.” As time went by, I was able to leave my gift at home more often. It was still there. It was still mine, but I didn’t have to carry it with me everywhere I went. Now, years after my daughter’s death, it’s like I keep my gift on a shelf. Every now and then, especially on holidays, birthdays, and what would have been milestones in her life, I take my gift down off the shelf. I open it up and take out my grief. I hold it in my hands, turning it over and over. I feel the weight of it, the hardness of it. The coldness of it. I know this sounds crazy, but I also admire its beauty. I cry a little—sometimes a lot. I blog about it some, but not as often as I used to. But then, I put my grief back in that box. I tie the beautiful bow around it, and I gently place it back on the shelf. Then I go on with life. Years ago, I never would have believed that I could go on with life without my daughter. But here I am, functioning, parenting again, serving, living. And my gift of grief remains… until the next time I take it down off the shelf. My grief has changed my life, but it no longer consumes my life. Because of this gift, I have found a Hope that I otherwise would never have known… a true Unswerving Hope.