It didn’t take long after Dominic’s leaving for life to ramp up and obligations to pour in. We had two graduations and a wedding within two months of his funeral.
Then there were thank-you notes to write, dishes to return and every day chores necessary to manage a home and family.
No escaping what must be done.
It took me a little while to realize that if I was going to survive this lifelong journey I had to make some changes in how and when I responded to requests to do something, be somewhere or participate in outside events. Because no matter how worthy the request, there was only so much of me to go around and I was forced to spend nearly all my energy and time and effort on figuring out how this great wound was impacting me and my family.
I cannot overemphasize how much strength and energy is needed to do the work grief requires.
At first, turning down a request or asking someone to reschedule was relatively easy-the loss was fresh in their minds and they were gracious and understanding. As the weeks and months and now YEARS have passed, it is harder. Not always because they don’t understand but because I sometimes hold myself to an untenable standard that says I should be better by now. I should be able to do all that I could once do. I shouldn’t be so sensitive to the date on the calendar or the place we might meet for lunch or the rainy weather that brings my mood down.
But I’m not able to ignore all those things and sometimes I just can’t do what someone else would like me to be able to do.
So I keep repeating the mantra, “grace and space” to myself.
I need grace-from my own heart FOR my own heart– I must cut myself the slack I would be happy to extend to others.
I need grace from friends and family. I cannot help you understand exactly what it’s like to be me. You can never know all the ways I ache for the life I had before Dominic ran ahead to heaven. You could never imagine all the daily pinpricks my soul must suffer as I walk in this world and am reminded of what I’ve lost.
So you will have to take it on faith when I say, “I just can’t do that”.
I need space.
I need space between me and the noise of the world and the shouting urgency of “to do” lists and project deadlines. So much of the work I must do is silent, solitary work. It takes hours and hours of thinking, talking to God, reading Scripture, journaling and just being alone to sort this all out.
I’m not rejecting YOU-I’m trying to preserve ME.
It isn’t selfishness, it’s love for my family. I refuse to add to their burden by running myself into the ground. I won’t choose to make life harder for them by creating an unecessary crisis.
I don’t know when I might (or IF I might) return to the busy bee I once was. Right now I can’t even imagine it.
I think I will need grace and space for a very, very long time.