Grief Changes

This life is not all sadness and sorrow, death and darkness.  

It was.  For a very, very long time all I could see was distant flickers of light.  

They were just enough to keep me going but not enough to lift the utter blackness that surrounded me.  

Now I would characterize life as hazy gray-most things still filtered through a lens of grief but generally brighter.  

I can see and feel the change.  It’s not as hard to get up most mornings.  Not as hard to put dates on a calendar.  Not as hard to commit to social activities and to actually show up.  Not as hard to talk about family life with strangers and acquaintances.  Not as hard to do so many things that were practically impossible in the first weeks, months and years.

I am so, so grateful.  

And there are good things-very good things-happening in my family.  

I’m even more grateful for those.  

A baby who could have had a sad story has a happy one!  He is growing and grinning and getting ready (within the month, we think) to escape the hospital.  His dad is home from deployment.  His mom is healing like a champ from severe illness and from her surgery.  They are forming a happy trio and full of love.

ryker smiling

A wedding is less than two weeks away!  After some (typical) stress and struggle things are falling into place.  My daughter is joining her life to a good man and that fills my heart with joy.

fiona and brandon at farm

My niece is graduating high school.  All the kids in that generation are grown ups just as we finally added one to begin the next.

My mother and father are still here to enjoy these things.  

If you are afraid you will never, ever feel joy again, I understand.  That was one of the most frightening aspects of early days and months and years.  I could not imagine having that heavy, dark cloud envelope me for the rest of my life.

It seems impossible it could ever be otherwise.  

But I’m here to tell you-it doesn’t have to be that way.  If you reach for the tiny lights you can just barely see in the distance and make whatever feeble and faltering steps forward, your heart will learn to feel something besides sorrow again.

At first it may only be a split-second when a smile nearly, but not quite, crosses your lips.

Then it might be an hour when you realize you’ve actually been completely engaged and present with your family or good friend.

One day you will be slipping into bed and think, “Today was a pretty good day”.  It will shock you, sadden you  and encourage you all at the same time.

It’s not a smooth upward journey that lands you out of the pit of grief.

It’s a bumpy road that tosses you around.  Highs and lows, ups and downs.  And it lasts a lifetime.

But if you purpose to hold on with both hands, to stay the course, keep heading toward the bits of light, laughter, love and loveliness teasing you in the distance, you will make progress.

Bad things have happened-the worst, in fact. 

Bad things still happen. 

But good things happen too.  

Very good things.  

I want to be present for them, don’t you?

courage is always an act of love

Sudden and Unwelcome Change

I woke up just past midnight to notice my bedside clock flashing off and on, indicating the power had gone out for at least a few minutes at some point after I fell asleep. 

“No worries, ” I thought as I rolled over and drifted off.  

An hour or so later and the cold woke me again.  No power.  This time for several hours.

I snuggled deeper under the warm covers and decided to go back to sleep.  Surely it’d be on by morning.

And it was.  

But it set my mind thinking as I got up, turned on the light in the kitchen and plugged up the coffee pot:  My morning routine would be utterly disrupted if electricity hadn’t begun flowing again.  

hands and coffee

No warm house, no warm shower, no hot coffee, no way to get online and post the blog (cell service is unavailable at my home), no handy portable phones to make necessary calls should the power also be out at our church just a mile down the road.

I could go on and on.

Of course each of these difficulties could be surmounted.

It would take extra effort and be frustrating, but I could manage to get by without coffee and plug up the old phone to make phone calls.  The blog could wait.  And it’s unlikely that the outage would last more than a few hours or a day and then things would be back to normal.

Imagine, though, being used to the modern convenience of electricity at the flip of a switch and then being suddenly plunged into darkness and disconnection.

Unprepared-no matches, no alternative fuel sources, no extra warm clothes for winter days and nights-just plucked from the world you knew and dropped into a world you didn’t.

That’s what it felt like when Dominic ran ahead to Heaven.  No warning, no chance to think through what life might be like, what changes I would have to accommodate, how I would need to face the days, weeks, months and years of his absence.  

family never gets over the death of a loved one

I went to bed and expected to wake to the world I knew.  

Instead I woke to a world I could never have imagined.  

And just like I rarely consider the dozens and dozens of ways electricity impacts my life-makes it easier, brighter, better-until it’s unavailable;  I had NO IDEA how Dominic’s leaving would touch every corner of every moment of every day.

Last night I slept through the power outage.  Other than resetting my blinking clocks it will require no adjustments this morning.

I can’t sleep through child loss.  

When I wake, I face it anew each day.  

And it continues to require adjustments, even now.  

homesick huff post