I didn’t realize it was grief.
I knew it was painful. I realized it was necessary. I worked to make it transformative; the endings which signal unwanted beginnings.
I’ve wondered why a walk into a sunny blue-sky spring day could rip the air from my lungs. Or a twinge of pain still sears my chest when passing by that turn at dusk. I thought it was just me, but I was wrong. It was grief.
And knowing what it is – accepting it – has made all of the difference.
Instead of the shame of “what’s wrong with me?” I get to appreciate having known deep love and hope and experience. It would be great if we could clock out of our hearts at the end of love except we’d miss love’s last work in us.
The stripping of assumptions.
Rememberings of who we are and dreams once set aside.
The malleable working of our hearts of clay – once prided out and growing complacent.
Awareness of a world that is not our oyster.
Seeing the universal and familiar reality of broken-heartedness with fresh compassion.
Standing at “begin again”…again.
While reading a son’s lament of his father yesterday, I realized the lingering occasional punch of pain was grief-still. It was easy to see once I’d caught my reflection in this pastor’s account of losing his father three years earlier and in unexpected ways each day since. He observed how grief changes us; resets us. We are no longer who we were. We are new with new realities tinged by joys, days, work, and this thing of grief.
Carbon Leaf sung, “the seasons ought to be Love, Loss, Hope, Repeat“; I agree.
I vividly remember learning my brother was dying of cancer as I sat in the phone carrel of mid-1980’s Anderson Hall, Georgia Southern University.
When I was told one Mothers’ Day that I was soon to become a single mum to two of the sparkiest people I know.
The unease of learning all I had loved was not accurately portrayed.
And because this grief was so familiar, I thought I knew it and would recognize it in the lineup of feels.
But I was wrong.
This grief grew me…after it nearly did me in.
This revelation of grief began in the day following the loss when I made those three lists, “What I need to do Immediately.” “One-Year Plan,” and “Two-Year Plan.” Every minute face-down on the carpets, awake in the night watches, and trying to make sense of clashing realities did not become stones to drown me – though they felt as if they would drown me.
Every minute became a stone of rebuilding.
Each conversation with wise and compassionate counselors cleared the tinder brush from the landscape within.
The dark was followed by the day.
And so it continues.
This morning, I felt it: remembering with appreciation and moving onward.
Thanks for the growth.
Thanks for the people.
Is it derring do to love and risk loss?
Is the risk the price we pay to truly live
and grow into our own foundation?
We tear down or build.
Sometimes we rest.
Often we are wrested from good to free us for better; maybe even best.
Sometimes there is no discernible redemption – happy end goal – of loss.
It is then when we must choose to release our grip on the hoped for and let grief do its work of compassion, unburdening, and expanding.
Grief which permeates the life cycle of Love. Loss. Hope. Repeat.