A river of grief
The great Garth once wrote that “a dream is like a river, ever changing as it flows.” I think that more accurately describes grief. As you ride the ebbs and flows, some days are calm. And then out of nowhere, a seemingly inconsequential memory comes crashing around you like a tidal wave, knocking you out of the temporary peace you had found. It can be a board game that was once their favorite, or a book they bought at a book fair in first grade. It can be a song on the radio or even walking into a store and having a memory flash into your head.
I am no stranger to grief. Growing up in a pastor’s family, hospital visits and saying good-byes while supporting families was a way of life. I spent many a day in the hospital visiting and praying and helping people say goodbye. I got a good understanding of the shortness of life early on. But I always knew there was hope. I lost grandparents early in life. I’ve had numerous friends die. I had a miscarriage. I am prepared for the fact that my parents will go before me. But none of that has the impact this did. Because this was so sudden, and unexpected. It’s a tragedy you only hear on the news or in movies. You don’t expect it to hit within your own walls, and nothing can prepare you for the fact that it might. And while my son is not gone from this earth, the role I had in his life is dead. The relationship is dead. The love I had for him is still very much alive, but the only way I can show it now is from a distance. There may one day be a chance at reconciliation and building of something new. God definitely has ability to redeem the situation. But for now, there is an utter gaping hole where I once nurtured my own child. It is painful. It is raw. It is anxiety inducing. It is sleep depriving. He will never walk through my doors, or spend another birthday or Christmas here. I won’t hear his voice daily as it deepens, or mark his height on my wall again.
Watching the same grief in the eyes of my children, who are battling their own conflicting feelings of both anger and sadness only heightens the waves. I don’t know how to ride my own ship yet, so I am clueless to tell them how to navigate. Some days we all just melt in a puddle of tears. Some days we take random naps because of emotional overload. At this point the good days kind of take us by surprise. We cherish them and all hold our breath for the next wave that is inevitably coming. I watch my daughter afraid to go see friends and enjoy herself for fear that the anxiety will hit again. And my son tries to bury it so he doesn’t have to handle it.
I have started therapy with my pastor, and he told me the road to healing comes from forgiveness and letting go of the anger. He then said that no one expects that of me yet. And honestly, I’m glad. Because I’m not sure I could let go of the anger yet. The pain is still too fresh. And I know forgiveness is for me, and not anyone else. But I’m not sure I’m capable yet. The resounding question in my head is “why?” I’m just not sure I’ll be ready to move on and let go until I come to grips with the fact that I’ll never get that answer. And for someone like me who always digs for the why, that’s a hard pill to swallow.
I want to thank all of you who have reached out in support. If I come off as insensitive or distant, it is not on purpose. Some days I’m barely holding it together. The two comments I get the most from others are “I don’t know how you do it” and “I can’t imagine what it feels like.” I’ve been working on a post to attempt to describe what it feels like and the range of emotions. It may or may not ever get finished. But I can tell you that the only way I’m standing is prayer- my own, and all of yours that you’ve told me you’re sending. It definitely helps. So if you are reading this and that is you, thank you.