Today I am feeling so over grieving. So over the hardness of the work it requires. So over its permanency in every nook and cranny of my life. Too bad my weary mind and body can’t somehow tell that to my heart in way it can understand.
As a matter of fact, I’m so over it this morning, that for the first time in a very long time, when I got into my car to go to work I really just wanted to keep driving. The weary part of my spirit wanted to simply drive away from all the work, the weariness and the hardness that grief ushered into my life. I wanted to turn the car North and just keep driving till I got the shore of one of the Great Lakes where there I could simply sit, be still and listen to the waves swim in and out, in and out and with that sound remind myself to breath in the same way, one breath at a time, in and out, in and out till I could relax into the sounds and let the lake’s healing power ease over my exhaustion.
There I would stop with the seemingly endless cycle of grief work, there I wouldn’t have grief counseling appointments where we are delving into some pretty serious trauma work now, there I wouldn’t subject myself to acupuncture or healing touch and the incredible emotional release that both of those bring, leaving in their wake exhaustion so pervasive that for the next day I am pretty much useless. There I could put away the extremely difficult work of healing and simply be. There I would make it a priority to pick up my pen and journal just for the joy of it, and maybe, just maybe, the flashbacks and night terrors would fade into the horizon, if only for a little while.
If someone had told me at the very beginning that I would still be actively doing grief work years, not months after John’s death, I may never have come out of the hidey hole I created after the initial impact of John's death. Looking back on the last 2 1/2 years I’m thinking that in the case of how long term grief actually is (read- life long I’m now realizing) sometimes ignorance really is bliss. It's the early on ignorance that if I worked hard enough and diligent enough at healing that the grieving would end and that the acute stabs of pain and disbelief would go away for good that made me step outside the door and seek help to heal to begin with. Had I known the truth, I may actually have headed North and not returned to face this grief and of course that would have been a mistake.
So as the car continued to head East to work, instead of North to my perceived sanctuary I found that I needed to reel in my thoughts of the North, my thoughts of fleeing this grief and all the work it requires. Besides wherever I go, surely this grief will follow, right? Instead, I felt I needed focus on what consistently showing up for this grief and its work has allowed me to experience. In standing still with sorrow, instead of fleeing North as I so often have yearned to do, I have been able to see and appreciate what remained, even after John’s death. And there are many things which have both beauty and value that certainly have remained:
-What remained in abundance for me, is my friendships which have become deeper and more honest because I became more vulnerable.
-What remained after the waves of intense pain receded was a faith community that held me tightly and wanted healing for me, often more than I wanted it for myself in those early months.
-What remained and I was a long time in seeing again was that in standing still and doing the hard work, I have become better able to see the beauty of my everyday surroundings and my everyday life and be deeply grateful for them. This morning that were four deer munching new emerging field grass, a dozen turkeys waddling along side the road and a sunrise so dazzling that I could scarcely look away from it, and I find that I'm tearing up at the simplicity of these gifts and my being able to acknowledge them as such.
-What remained was my ability to love deeply, which became surprising news to me when my heart lurched toward my now husband, Mark, one early Wednesday morning when he walked into a meeting we were both attending. It was in seeking out help to heal that I was able to open my heart enough to allow for love to enter, which it did in the form of Mark, who is compassionate, thoughtful and gentle with me.
Don’t get me wrong, grief sucks! It’s absolutely sucks! It’s a crappy, hard and horrible business that I wish I didn't have to face each and every day. John’s death hasn’t brought me deep realizations or great insights. I can't point to his death and say that I have learned something deep and meaningful or that I’m a better person from having suffered this loss. I’m not. I’m simply more broken than I was before. I’m not even insinuating anything close to how doing grief work will help a person make lemonade where there are simply rotten, stinking lemons left on the ground. What I am saying is that John is dead, that his death hurt terribly early on and is still very, very hard all these months and years later but that even in that, there is beauty and love and friendship to be found in this world and certainly NOT because of his death but in-spite of it.
What I know to be true for me is that it is all of the damned hard work of grief that got me here, out of my hidey hole, seeing a sunrise so beautiful its hard to believe its real and feeling actual wonder at seeing it. That it was all the difficult appointments and tears shed that have enabled me to be stand at this spot in my grieving, a spot I didn’t believe would ever come, where I can hold a lovely and wonderful sunrise moment, right along side the constant truth and knowledge that John died before he should have, and that my heart is and will always be somewhat broken from that trauma of his death, holding them together in one single moment.
And it’s because I bravely stepped out my hidey hole, entered the arena of healing and attempted the hard word of grief that I am able, in this one moment at least, to hold both of those truths lightly side by side and not break into two separate beings, one being deeply grieving and one being desperately trying to live. It is only the work of grief that has brought those two beings together, flawed and fragile but grateful too.