Thursday, February 23, 2012

Grief Is Not A Four Letter Word

Grief is such a personal thing.  No one can tell you how to grieve; they can only encourage you and be there for you while you do it.  I am convinced that no two people’s experiences are the same.  Grief is something that most people will face at some point in their lives.  It is inevitable.  That is part of the reason that in the book I am writing about finding the blessing in singlehood, there is an entire chapter devoted to it; facing grief as a single person.
Death has been something I’ve faced and dealt with several times in my lifetime.  One of my dearest friends went to be with the Lord after a long fight with cancer when she was in her early 30s.  That meant that at 25 years old I lost my best friend.  Never would I have imagined that four years later I would lose my Mom as well.
Three years have passed since my Mom received her new body (read: she went to be with the Lord and is no longer suffering in the pain of her natural/earthly body).  Three years can seem so long.  Three years can seem like a day.
The anniversary of my Mom’s death was just a few weeks ago.  Shortly after that time a woman who knew my Mother ran into me out in public.  This was a person that I love and respect.  She is a woman who has been a great friend to the family.  At the end of our short chat, in a very sweet and reassuring voice (seemingly out of nowhere), she said to me “It gets easier doesn’t it?”  And then she smiled and went on her way.

I wanted to say “No.  Actually, no, it doesn’t just get easier.”  But I didn’t have the heart to sound so cruel.

The truth of the situation is that I am single and I have no Mom.  Nothing changes that.  Nothing really gets easier about that.  It is the truth that I face all the time.  The degrees of that may change, but the truth of it does not. 
Life gets busier; time gets filled with other things, but even now, 3 years later, I find myself remembering random “Mom” things.
Today it was remembering how she would fake shoot me with if I entered the house or a room unannounced.  I could picture myself running up the stairs to meet her at the top and she’d go “peew, peew!  You didn’t identify yourself!” and then we would laugh.
When I lost my Mom…well, when she died, because technically I didn’t lose her, I mean, I knew right where she was.  Anyway, after I became Mom-less, I realized that “It will get easier” left my vocabulary.  Instead I replaced it with other words of strength.  Maybe it’s not meant to get easier.  You’ve just suffered a huge tragedy that maybe you are not meant to move on from.  That isn’t a bad thing; and no one should make you feel otherwise.
The business of life sets in and life goes on.  Maybe I will marry someday.  Perhaps I will have children.  If that happens, my Mom will not be there.  “She’ll be there in Spirit” will surely be stated by plenty of well-wishers, but at the end of the day, my physical Mother will not be there.  And she will be missed. 
There will always be events that she will be tangibly missed at.
These thoughts aren’t depressing to me; these thoughts are just fact.  My days now are a new normal.  I may go a week or more without thoughts of my Mom.  But then there are those times when a memory will strike my heart and I will feel tears well up inside of my eyes.   Usually those are the times that I couldn’t prepare for; not birthdays, anniversaries, weddings, holidays…rather, it is the times when the unexpected things hit.  It’s when a movie comes out that I know she’d love.  It can hit when I’m alone and need a hug.  It’s those times when I think to myself “I haven’t talked to my Mom in awhile”… and I instinctively reach for the phone.  Those are the times that cut like knife.
The point of all of this is just to say that grieving is a process.  It happens to you and with you.  If you’re grieving, grieve.  However that may look.  Find someone to share in it with you.  Remember the good times.  Laugh.  Cry.  God made us all unique and He knows just how to reach us in our hardest times.  Our loved ones will never be forgotten.  The pain will lessen and memories will bring strength in the hardest times.  Just remember, we’re not created to suffer alone.  There is always someone who we can find to be a rock for us; a person to hold us up when our knees get weak.

The picture above was taken about a year before my Mother passed away.
This photograph was taken during a missions trip to India.
This is a photo of my Mother doing something that she loved, hugging people.