These days I feel like I’m getting a Masters degree in dealing with grief and loss, and I hope I’m not depressing you.
It’s just that right now I can’t pretend that everything’s okay.
Because it’s not.
Dealing with loss is hard. And necessary. And right now I'm dealing with several.
Life is full of endings.
Besides, I’m a woman who pays attention to what’s going on around her. I listen to my life and I feel compelled to write about what I see and hear.
It helps me and I hope it helps you in some way, too.
Rather than dive head first into work, run to the fridge to stuff my face, or glue myself to the television set to watch stupid, reality shows, I’ve embarked on a brave adventure...
I’m learning to let my heart break.
Like the time I looked grief in the eye after visiting my dad on a particularly bad day a few months ago. He was in tough shape when I arrived at the house, and ended up being rushed to the hospital that night. I thought for sure we were going to lose him.
When I arrived home later on, I went to find Michael and asked him to sit with me on our back deck. I desperately needed wide-open space and the comfort of nature.
I knew I was losing control.
The fear and pain I’d kept bottled up for weeks was coming to the surface and I could barely breathe.
Once out on the deck, I started sobbing. I don’t want my dad to die, I yelled to the sky like a little girl. He’s the first man I’ve ever known and he’s my dad and I’m not ready to say goodbye.
Michael sat still beside me, a silent witness to my pain. Thank God, because I just needed to let loose and be present with myself. I didn’t want anyone to fix it.
I paced back and forth like a caged animal, trapped by a reality I didn’t want to face. I thought I was prepared for this, I said to Michael, my dad’s been sick for a long time.
But I’m not prepared. Not. At. All.
We stayed there together on the deck for nearly two hours as I cried and talked and yelled and sobbed and by the end, I was exhausted. But I felt better, much better actually – relieved and at peace.
I'm happy to report that my dad made it through and he's doing remarkably well. He's one of the most resilient men I've ever known and in a strange way, the ups and downs of his healing journey are teaching me about the resilience of the heart.
With each down, the heart breaks a little, mends, and grows stronger.
That day reminded me of two important things about grief.
There was a finish line for my sorrow. The tough emotions came up, went out, and eventually stopped. Crying and railing against life was both cleansing and healing at the same time.
I was now prepared for being unprepared.
We’re never really ready for loss as much as we’d like to believe we are and I have to say I’m relieved to have found this out early on. Denial is a temporary Band-Aid. Real relief comes from knowing and facing the truth.
I guess that’s why I feel it necessary to write about the process. Because life is filled with losses big and small and we’re not given a roadmap to navigate the journey. Instead, most people do what they can to ignore the pain.
What we love and lose is worthy of our grief.
But it won’t last forever. Emotional pain is like a storm cloud on a rainy day. It appears scary and ominous at first, but if you stay present and watch, beauty can be found in the darkness as it passes by.
And then of course, the sun reappears.
These days I’m grateful for the breaks in the clouds – and there have been many. Hummingbirds dancing in the garden, laughing while walking in the rain with my sister, or salsa lessons with Michael.
Life goes on and you will, too. We all will in one form or another.
Yes, it’s a brave adventure this thing called life...
This week's video
Okay, now and then we all need a break from pain. This week’s video is sure to make you smile. Check it out here.