“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear” – C.S. Lewis
Unfortunately, grief cannot be scheduled from 2-4pm on a Sunday afternoon. No. Grief is the visitor that will arrive and paralyze your breath while folding laundry. It will sucker-punch your heart when you hear a song. It will bath your day in melancholy on Christmas. Grief shows up and she doesn’t consider timing.
In the first few months after my mother’s death I hated everything. I couldn’t believe I could go the grocery store and people were smiling and buying groceries! I wanted to scream, “Don’t you know? My mom died!”
I wanted every 1st holiday following her death cancelled. Christmas was horrible. We sat under our tree and did nothing but cry the entire time. It was terrible. There was no joy. The holiday glue was painfully absent.
Slowly, over time, a new normal began to emerge and while I still could not find comfort or peace in my home, I began to grow as a human being and develop the skills I would need to enter adulthood.
Losing my mother as a young girl has been the biggest loss of my life. When she died I felt alone. None of my friends had experienced what I went through. Some of my friends had experienced the concept of loss through divorce. But, no one close to me had had their mother die. I felt alone and very misunderstood. Lost. Scared. Abandoned. And, Life kept going.
We buried my mom on a Saturday and I was in school Monday. As I walked through the halls and attended classes no one said a word. How strange. I understand many didn’t know what to say and I am not criticizing, just sharing that when someone has experienced the death of a loved one your acknowledgment will not make anything worse. They already feel their worse. They want to know they are seen, not alone.
I am beginning to see some of my friends lose their mothers or fathers, and for many, entering the all-consuming process of grief. Grief has no end point. You will feel joy again and you will be happy, but there will forever be this small raw sad pulsating spot in your heart. It will beat softly, always, and at times resonate like a kettle drum.
“She was no longer wrestling with the grief, but could sit down with it as a companion and make it a sharer in her thoughts” – George Eliot
When a loved one dies, there are logistics that need to be handle and there is the business of final arrangements . I think this is good. You need something to remind you to breath. To get up, brush your teeth, get dressed. Rinse and Repeat. However, Monday will come. Your friends go back to work and you sit with this grief, alone. It is a personal relationship like no other.
Life is relentless and will not stop for your loss. Grief is no different. It is relentless and will never end. Allow it. Receive her when she knocks. Cry. Be angry. Smile. Acknowledge it – Grief isn’t always sad.
Grief, to me, is like any other emotion with one painful caveat – you will only understand this emotion when you experience the loss of someone you loved dearly. It is a bittersweet gift.
Not one of us will escape grief. It is inevitable. Someday you will hear or witness your biggest loss. Grief will knock and you will open the door to a place you could never prepare to greet.
Many times, I feel so fortunate I was able to experience this type of loss at the tender, naïve age of 14. Young enough that I truly had no big picture understanding of the what I was losing (yet). I find now, years later, as a mother, I grieve her in new and different ways.
Grief will also brings you gifts. When you lose someone you love, not much will really ever rock your world again. Once you survive your worst fear or pain, you may learn first-hand that aside from your health and relationships, nothing else really is a big deal –
I have found grief offers us three beautiful packages for living a more meaningful, joyful and empowering life if we are able to receive.
Perspective. Gratitude. Resilience.
Gift One: Perspective. This is a precious gift I can thank my mother for daily. Truly, there is not much that rocks my world. I can fathom a few, but for the most part, I don’t complain. I can see a silver lining in just about any situation. Life is a gift. Time is relentless. Time is a constant reminder that life is finite. Time does not lie. Time does not play.
Don’t waste your life wishing it away or failing to recognize the beauty of another day. Even the messy part. The messy part is where the growth and deepening of the soul has greatest potential. My mother would have done anything for another day with us – you do have today – live well!
Perspective is like the best human super-power, ever.
Gift Two: Gratitude. When I wake up in the morning, before I even put your feet on the floor, I try to remember to take a deep breath and say “thank you.” To be given the gift of another day…say thank you. I take a daily morning walk to connect with nature – It is the time were I commune with nature and feel my version of God.
Sometimes it so easy to find yourself caught up in the aggravations, irritations and demands of your day, but if you practice the gift of gratitude you will quickly realize there is always something to be grateful for. I am sure my mother would be grateful for a day of aggravation, irritation and demands if it meant to also experience more time with the people she loved and to witness the beauty of another sunset.
Gift Three: Resilience. The third gift you may receive is the nurturing of resilience. Nothing tests your inner strength more brutally than grief. Grief is like the moon. It waxes and wanes but even during the month when it becomes invisible to the eye, it is still there. Grief will always remain, but you will find in each day you continue to face your pain your confidence in facing any challenge in life will increase and be ready for whatever hand life deals next. Resilience can be your greatest strength.
I would not be who I am or be living the life I am without my mother’s death and allowing grief to enter my heart. My mom left to allow space for me to grow. Such a blessing.
To all of you grieving or facing the loss of someone you love, know you are not alone. Be gentle with yourself today and always. Grief may come when you least expect it, or have poor timing, but at those moments open the door…
Grief is like the ocean;
it comes on waves ebbing and flowing.
Sometimes the water is calm,
And sometimes it is overwhelming.
All we can do is learn to swim.
– Vicki Harrison