It’s a lesson I learned decades ago and have honed over the years.
When the big things feel out of control, focus on the small ones right in front of your face.
It has served me well since Dominic ran ahead to Heaven.
Right now there are so, so many big things outside my control-not just the ones all of us are facing like the pandemic, or job loss, or trying to figure out how to navigate a world where you can’t hug your friends or even see their smiles-but many in my own family.
So I’m getting up every morning and looking for the one or two or twenty (if they are small!) things I love and can do something about.
In practice (for me) it looks like this: taking a morning walk along with feeding my critters (stopping to notice butterflies, lovely flowers, falling leaves, sunlight through the trees and sticking my nose in my horses’ manes); sweeping off the front porch and tidying the kitchen so my eyes can rest happy on clear spaces (even though the rest of the house is out of order due to major reorganization/moving rooms); putting my hair up and washing my face; writing (obviously); choosing one corner to clean well and declare “finished”; taking an afternoon walk with my son’s little dog and laughing silently as her tiny legs churn away keeping up with me; smelling hay as I toss it to the donkeys; reading bits of books (my attention span still isn’t what it used to be); chatting with friends and family online or on the phone; resting after a long day’s work by watching old British mysteries with lots of interesting characters and no bloody violence; embroidering or crocheting until bedtime and sleeping with open windows.
It will undoubtedly look different for you.
And my list has taken years to develop-when Dom first left us I most often only managed a walk and maybe a little readingor journaling.
But you can begin by jotting down things that used to bring you pleasure or feed your passion.
I belong to a number of closed online bereaved parent groups.
I’m not sure if it is a function of gender or not, but the moms seem to be a bit more willing to share their feelings and to respond to the feelings of others.
Every now and then, a dad speaks up. When he does, I usually pay close attention to this male perspective.
Wes Lake is a bereaved dad in our group who often has thoughtful posts that touch my heart. This one in particular was a beautiful, true and helpful reflection so I asked him for permission to share.
He graciously agreed.
” [I was] just thinking about 5 years down this road and some of the things I’ve learned:
Grief doesn’t usually kill you.
For a long time I wished the Lord would take me but apparently he had other plans because I’m still here. So if I’m still alive what choice do I have but to pick up the pieces of a shattered life and learn to live again. Yes, I’m severely disabled but I need to make the best of what I have.
It is not the hand your dealt, it is about how you play the cards.
I have learned not to trust my emotions.
I will have the blackest of black days and a day later the world will look like there is hope. Nothing in child loss good or bad is forever other than the loss of our child.
On the bad days I hold out hoping for a better day.
Time does heal but not in a way that most people think.
Time shows you all the sides of grief. Time teaches you your limitations. Time helps you to stuff the grief so you can function again. Time shows you how to interact with a non-grieving world.
You don’t grieve any less, but your life gets easier.
One other one not part is of the OP [overall process]-I had to come to grips with being happy.
For a long time I felt that experiencing the slightest sliver of joy was somehow being unfaithful to my daughter. I’m here to tell you that is a huge lie of grief. Just because you are experiencing good things does not mean you miss your child any less.