There is a group of us. You may notice us or you may not. You will have expected it to be over by now. But it’s not.
Everyone has their opinion of what is normal and what is not. Not sure if God defined normalcy in specific terms but lots of people have. A few months after losing my son, a church leader said, “I don’t want you to get stuck in grief.”
I didn’t know it then, but my feelings were raw. I know he was well-meaning. I know that now. But at the time I wanted so badly to lean forward and say, “You’re lucky I get the hell out of bed every morning” (using the expletive to reveal my raw nerves).
But I didn’t.
I stuffed the feelings back down and went for the nicey-nice stuff. Because after all, isn’t that the right thing to do?
The years following that conversation (and other advice over the years) stuck with me. Being the type of person who always asked “How high?” when someone said jump, I couldn’t jump this time. Then I started refusing to jump.
Thus begun a long journey that will continue until the day I die. The journey of grief.
I have resented this journey because of the invisible hand I have felt holding me back. I am a let’s-fix-it-and-be-done-with-it kind of gal. But grieving is a whole other language. You either play nice with it or you don’t play at all. In other words, you have to live and if you don’t follow the rules you will sink down deeply into a bottomless pit of sorrow, wishing you would just die in your sleep.
Now, I am not resentful because I know the invisible hand knows exactly what grief is all about. And this hand does not put any limitations on me. The truth has a way of clearing away the path of thick, tangled brush of frustration and confusion. And the truth for grieving people is this: acceptance. Unconditional, patient, loving acceptance.
There is a group of us. We are your neighbors, your family, and the strangers you see on the street. And our hearts have a wound that always hurts. Some days we shy away from something or someone who makes the wound start bleeding again. For many months or even years, we will try to be strong and go into those vulnerable places to convince you (and ourselves) we are okay. But after awhile, we are too exhausted to keep that going.
See, we know you talk about us. We know you don’t mean any harm. But that doesn’t matter because all we feel is the vacuum created. And we just don’t have the energy to fill it.
The following is an excellent article from Today’s Christian Woman that helped me today. It validated and accepted me. It obliterated the catch phrases that I abhor: “a new normal” and “time heals all wounds”. There isn’t and it doesn’t.