As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. -- Isaiah 55:10-11

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Being Okay in the Ocean of Grief

When I talk about how I am, it isn't something to be made better. It simply is what it is. Grief is hard. It is up and down. It drowns you one minute and then runs to hide the next as though it has never been there. It will knock you to your knees and drag sobs out of you that are so raw you think you'll never get up, and then suddenly, the tears are gone, you are breathing, and life returns.

It is the way of grief.

Last Sunday night Anna was crying...grieving deeply...and I said, "I am so proud of you."

She looked shocked. "Proud of me, but I'm the one throwing a fit."

"No, you're not throwing a fit. You're grieving. There is a difference. If you cut your hand and cried, it would be okay. Right?"

She nodded.

"Well, your heart is bleeding, and it's okay to cry about that, too."

She thought about that a bit and then said, "Mom, I feel like I've been tossed in to the middle of the ocean and told to swim."

Dear God, I know that feeling well. Give me words.

"Anna, I know right now you feel like you are in the middle of the ocean, and you are about to drown, but you won't. Either Daddy or I will grab your hand and keep you above water, or God will. Whichever, you won't go under. And you won't be out there forever. God didn't abandon you to water over your head so you could drown. You might be out there a bit, but then He'll move you back to the beach, and you can play and relax, and it'll be good. Then without warning a wave will hit, and you'll feel like you are back in the ocean again floundering, dogpaddling for all you are worth just to keep your head above water. But when that happens, just remember, the beach time will come. The rest will come. The breathing will come. JOY will come. Over time you'll find you are in the deep water less and on the beach more, and you'll find when you are in the deep water, you know how to swim better, so you won't feel like you are drowning. It'll just feel hard or tiring, but you won't feel overwhelmed, and eventually, you'll find that missing Grandma isn't the deep part of the ocean, but a wave the knocks you off your feet sometimes or throws water in your face, but you'll still know where you are, and it'll wash over you with ease. The big thing is, Anna, remember as bad as the middle of the ocean is, you won't stay there. If you keep remembering you're going to go back to the beach, you'll be okay."

Sometimes I'm in the middle of the ocean. Sometimes I'm on the beach. Believe it or not, I'm okay with both because both are natural and normal. Both are of God. Both are necessary for healing.

I don't always think clearly in the middle of the ocean, and sometimes I need someone to help me keep my head above water until I can remember the beach is coming, but I'm not drowning, and I don't feel hopeless in the ocean. I feel like it is simply part of the process of healing. The crying, the sadness, the laughter, the memories that make me warm with joy...and leave me cold with pain...are part of the process.

I'm not worried about the dreams or losing sleep. Time will fix that. I'm not worried about lying in my floor sobbing. Better than using booze to be numb. I'm not worried that the walls feel like they are closing in sometimes. I have friends to call who will either talk on the phone or come over.

Everything I am experiencing is normal. And as long as I have spots where I clearly see what I consider to be the "beneath this chaos this is who I am" Jerri, I know I'm still intact and will be fine as I work through all this.I know the core of me is still solid, and I'm going to come out better on the other side. Will tomorrow be better? I don't know, but I know a week from now will. I know a month from now will. I know sometimes the way to live through this moment is to focus on the future. The key is letting the future give the strength of hope without the weakness of escape, and I think I am doing that well.

I'm going to cry. I'm going to cry really hard. I'm going to have nights when my Mom is all I dream about. I'm going to have nights when sleep is elusive. I'm also going to laugh really hard. I'm going to experience moments that amaze me. I'm going to write, homeschool, clean the toilets, iron, and all those other life things, and periodically in the midst of those life things, the reality of my mom being gone or the pain of my marriage being in disarray will hit me really hard, and I am going to sob and grieve. It's just part of the process, and really, I'm okay with that.

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