Grief's Travails Over Time
Feeling bad today. My oldest child, my son Rollin, just called me today to see if Tommy and I could come to his baby girl's, our grand baby daughter's, dedication on Sunday. Now don't get me wrong, the sun rises and sets for this child in our eyes~we adore her. But I am also a grieving mother, Tommy is also a grieving daddy, and we never know what we can and cannot do, especially in a public setting, especially in one as sacred as a church, and not just in A church, but in THE church where our child's casket was up front as friends gathered around us a few days after her death. In that same area, now our grand baby girl will be dedicated? Can we go? I couldn't tell him. I know better than to commit ahead of time…
As grief expert Thomas M. Ellis says it,
Grief is a crazy-making, complicated process.
Grief has been described as a roller coaster of emotions. You might experience it as an engulfing wave, an ever-changing sea of experience, a place with nothing to protect you… Whatever you feel today, you learn that it will probably be different tomorrow. Grief is not about clear, predictable stages or steps. Rather, it is a natural process of dynamic changes that will ebb and flow as they may. You experience grief across every dimension of your being--body, mind, and spirit. ..
…Grief is relentless trudging, with unstable footing, in a dimly lit, strange place. Grief is a continuing personal process, a struggle to acknowledge the life-changing impact of loss.
Grief is depriving and painful in that it acknowledges that something has been taken away. You have lost someone and/or something. You are left with a painful void in your life. Grief is despairing, isolating, and overwhelming. Life suddenly changes, and its meaning is less clear than ever. Grief is disorganized and mischievous. It enjoys playing tricks on you and keeps you unbalanced.
There is a danger in discussing the life process of grief. You may be tricked into a place in which you gain a sense of final understanding. Beware the "grief expert." The only expert on grief is the person experiencing a particular loss at a particular time. You. Grief is so personally unique and changing that getting your mind and heart around it once and for all is impossible. Just when you reach a place of understanding, it changes again.
Someone... is gone, and you are left with a broken heart. You feel a deep emptiness, a sense of deprivation. Grief and pain are changing you….
…Grief is a cumulative creature that can grow larger over time. And if you try to hide from grief, it may cripple you.
(We are now)…a changed and changing family on a rest-of-our-lives journey of dashed hopes and dreams. There will be no more family photos with (our daughter's) beautiful smile--instead there will be pictures of a grieving family with affected expressions. (Our) family… will continue but with a noticeable missing piece. Family experiences will no longer include our beloved (daughter)… Her death will always impact our lives and all those whose lives she touched…
(You have to learn to) do what you can and not what others think you should do. Know what you feel, and what it is that you need to do. (W)hatever the situation, grief will demand that you take care of yourself.
Grief is not about stages you go through and ultimately graduate from. Rather it is a dynamic process of ups and downs, fluctuating with painful and peaceful moments, hours, days, and weeks.
Grief is not something you get over. Instead it is an experience that you must go through directly, taking in all of the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that you encounter along the way.
Grief is not time-limited, nor does time heal all wounds.
Give yourself permission to be free of others' expectations, and grant that freedom to others to explore and heal in ways that are real to them.
Grief and pain are changing you….
Grief and pain are changing you now, but they have the potential to transform your life in a healing way. Your capacity for courage is amazing. You have an inherent propensity for resilience.
~Thomas M. Ellis
This Thing Called Grief: New Understandings of Loss
(Italicized quote adapted to fit our family)
Let's just wait and see what Sunday brings. Perhaps it will expose for us a new strength, and courage, and resilience. But we cannot presume. We must simply wait, and see…