I walk the half-mile stretch down and back on my driveway at least four or five times a day.
In the winter I follow the sun.
In the summer I follow the shade.
The path I choose to take either adds to or subtracts from my ability to make the trek in relative comfort.
It would be foolish for me to not take advantage of available provisions. It would be silly for me to shiver or sweat more just because I was too lazy to adjust my trajectory.
I can’t change the absolute temperature outside but I can influence how I experience it.
I’ve found that the same practical wisdom applies to my grief journey: I can make things easier or harder on my heart by making even small changes in how I face a day or situation.
I can’t change the fact that my son is dead. But I can influence how I experience it.
On days when I am struggling with sorrow, I seek out some “sunshine”-both actual sunshine by getting outdoors and figurative sunshine by feeding my soul with positive images, thoughts and the truth of Scripture.
I minimize my interaction with “negative Nellies” and sites or shows or books or places that send me further down the path of despair.
I share my struggle with safe people who will listen and not try to correct me or force me into pretending that sorrow is not what I feel.
I go to bed early, knowing that each sunrise brings new mercies from our Heavenly Father and that one bad day does not have to define a week.
On days when I’m overwhelmed with the “heat” of commitment or too many people or too much activity, I seek out some “shade”-I look for a spot in my schedule where I can rest a bit and catch my breath.
I reassess and find things I can give up. I find other ways to meet obligations that give me more space and require less frantic scrambling.
I make myself sit down and slow down, even if it is for just fifteen minutes.
I’m honest with my family and friends, because if I’m not I will end up being ugly and hurting someone’s feelings.
So, so many things about grief are outside my control. I cannot anticipate every random trigger that might land me in a puddle of tears.
Life goes on and continues to demand my participation.
I want to be fully present for my loved ones. I want to show up and make merry for all the special occasions.
So I try to use wisdom in how I approach each day, assessing my grief “temperature” so that I can do what’s necessary to ensure I’m emotionally healthy enough to do what I really want to do.
Shade in summer.
Sun in winter.