A Season to Grieve

To every thing there is a season,
and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
A time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
A time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
A time to get, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
A time to rend, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
A time to love, and a time to hate;
A time of war, and a time of peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

I have rewrote this sentence about twenty times, not knowing how to begin. I know I need to write, yet I have erased and started over and over because I can’t find the right words. My hopes in writing this is not to gain sympathy, it is to let someone out there know, you are not alone in your struggle, and you have a right to your feelings. It is okay to be sad for awhile. But there is hope, it will get better….just hold a little bit longer.

This has been one of the hardest summer of my life. It was nothing that I didn’t anticipate happening. I just didn’t expect it all to happen at once. Within two short months I lost my grandma, grandpa, and a beloved furry friend. I knew eventually I would get a phone call about my grandparents, and I had come to terms with how sick Dessie doggie was. I don’t deal well with life changes, but in spite of my need for things to stay the same, time has a cruel way of making us all get older. Losing them was like an anchor letting go of the ocean floor. There is nothing tethering me to the place I call home. I am learning the hard way that the world I grew up in, the one that I look back on with rose-colored glasses, simply doesn’t exist anymore.

The thing about grief is that you never quite know how or when it will hit you. For me the initial shock of it left me unable to sleep or function properly for a couple days and I relied heavily on my husband to get me through it. A couple months have now passed, and I’m left here in a quiet sadness. Some days I will wake up and act perfectly fine, moving through my daily responsibilities, but I struggle with finding clarity in my thoughts and having purpose in my actions. I am finding that our society doesn’t seem to have much compassion for those grieving. We send off our heart and prayer emojis, quickly scroll by those RIP posts, and comment “sorry for your loss” while silently thanking God it is someone’s else pain. The person dealing with the loss is expected to move on and get over it as quickly as the memorial service has ended. Heaven forbid, if you can’t return to “normal” fast enough, people will think something is wrong with you.

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Then there is the guilt. I’m not referring to the guilt you feel when wishing you had spent more time, or wishing you could have done more. It is the guilt over actually feeling the way that you do. It is for being impatient with yourself when you’re not bouncing back. It is feeling guilty for the way you are dealing with your grief. I have had to leave notes around my house to remind myself it is okay to feel the way I am feeling. The absolute worst thing you can do is bury those feelings and pretend they don’t exist. You are allowed to feel this way. You are allowed time to ride out those waves of emotion in whatever way you need to. Stop trying to meet everyone’s expectations…stop trying to meet your own unrealistic expectations of yourself. Healing will not happen overnight. Grieving the life of a loved one cannot be contained into whatever bereavement time has been allotted to you. You are allowed to take as much time as you need until those waves become more manageable. Grief is not something to be conquered. It is not a roadblock or an ending point. Sometimes it will be loud and unbearable. Sometimes it will be soft and sobering. Regardless of how it is manifested, I am giving you permission to embrace it in whatever way you need to work through it for however long you need to.

My last trip home to Providence was a hard one. I knew I needed to face some difficult goodbyes and sort through some painful things I have repressed over the years. I guess it came down to two cemeteries and a bridge. I wondered how ridiculous I must have sounded, standing there talking to a stone, stumbling through words that no one could hear. But it doesn’t really matter what anyone thinks, because there were things I needed to say if I was going to start on the road to healing.

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At the end of this trip, I felt the need to return to this place that I hadn’t been back to in almost ten years. You see, the person I was with before meeting my amazing husband, was a terrible, terrible man. Fortunately for me, I only had to bear six months of his abuse before my family and friends intervened. But I remember standing on this bridge, on a cold day in December, while this man shouted about how worthless I was, and no one else except him could ever love me…and he made me throw my journal down into the river. He mocked everything that I had written. My thoughts, my feelings, everything that I was. I thought for a brief moment, that I oughta throw myself in too.

I wanted to go back, and tell that girl from ten years ago how blessed she would turn out to be. I wanted to tell her that even though pain is an inescapable part of life, that beautiful things would happen as well. That she would soon discover she was never worthless, her feelings mattered, and her ideas meant something to someone. It was important for me to stand there, on a warm, August afternoon, with my amazing family, and show her how incredible it has all turned out to be.

ethan and mom

My point in sharing these experiences is to expresses how we often lose sight of how precious life truly is. The life of your lost loved one mattered and you should be able to honor them and remember them in the way that is best for you. Your life matters, your feelings matter, so walk away from anyone or anything that doesn’t allow you to believe that.

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