(Disclaimer: I’m not a qualified therapist. I’m just talking on the internet. If any of this seems like it’d hurt you, don’t do it. I can’t take responsibility for what you do with my words. Don’t use me as a replacement for a real qualified therapist. There are good ones, they do exist. If you’re willing to talk with LDS therapists, LDS Family Services is a good resource.)
I’ve thought about a post like this for the last couple of days.
I was sitting in church, pondering the great losses I’ve had. I’ve derived a lot of strength from my faith.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t collapse in tears sometimes.
I read a blog post a few minutes ago. I won’t link it; it seems too private to be sharing randomly. (Not that I don’t love you, reader, but I can’t share secrets that aren’t mine.)
The story is one many share, though. In the midst of heartbreak, you want so badly to be “over it”. You still love that person, and you hate the thought that being “over it”, over the pain their death caused you, might mean you don’t love them anymore.
It’s already been six months, 1 year, 5 years, 2 decades, half a century. Why isn’t the pain gone?
Then, you wonder, all over again, if forgetting the pain means letting go of the person.
And then, you read something encouraging, like this quote:
“… And suddenly, at the very moment when, so far, I mourned H. least, I remembered her best. Indeed, it was something (almost) better than memory; an instantaneous, unanswerable impression. To say it was like a meeting would be going too far. Yet there was that in it which tempts one to use those words. It was as if the lifting of the sorrow removed a barrier.
Why has no one told me these things? How easily I might have misjudged another man in the same situation? I might have said, ‘He’s got over it. He’s forgotten his wife,’ when the truth was, ‘He remembers her better because he has partly got over it.’ ” — C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
You realize, if only for a moment, that healing, that letting go of the pain, will bring your loved one back. Bring them back in a way that screaming for them never could.
And then you claw for relief again, maybe screaming their name into the starry sky. (Grieving is grandly inconsistent, painfully so.)
But the relief doesn’t seem to come. Why can’t we just stop the pain and get to the healing?
Sometimes I think we don’t allow ourselves to really feel our losses. I think we tell ourselves that we’re grown up enough to handle it. We have to stay strong for the kids, the dog, our boss, our friends.
I can tell you that my mother’s honesty is something I needed. If she had pretended that my father’s death didn’t hurt, I would never know why everything hurt.
At least I know why. I want my dad back. I want my other loved ones back. That’s why everything hurts. And knowing that, I find the only way to healing.
That way winds through briar patches, rickety bridges, and up through the snowy mountaintops. Less metaphorically, it means all that stuff you’re itching to pass by. All those nights of falling up the stairs (done that), collapsing in tears, and the worst thing in our adult world, breaking down. It’s not that we’ll wait for a safe moment; we tell ourselves that there are no safe moments, and that we can’t ever break down. Ever.
You won’t be a crybaby for crying. It’s a real pain, it’s a real grief, and you will stagnate if you don’t admit it, at least to yourself.
“No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear.” — C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed
It is scary, though. It’s terrifying how your very self seems to rip apart in a way that should leave you dead, and yet doesn’t.
But know that even though it’s terrifying, there is a peace that only comes after you go through the pain. If you cry enough, the tears aren’t scary anymore. They become the rain that sculpts you into a beautiful person.
The blessing in this ferocious, endless storm, for me, has been the closeness I gained with God. If my father didn’t die then, who would I be now? Would I be able to take the things that happened to me as well as I have? Would I be able to be alone like I can?
Would I be able to talk about grief like I can? Would I still be terrified of my own tears?
Would I write like I do now? Would I feel that need to create as many things as I do? I currently make jewelry, take nature photos, write poetry, write songs, play piano, dance….which one would be gone if my grief had never come to me? Would they all be gone?
Maybe I’ve just come to a whole new set of questions. But I feel a strength in me that I couldn’t have found any other way.
It is my belief that everyone who dies is resurrected. So my loved ones will return to me, if I can wait.
So, since death is inevitable, and they’ll all come back…I’ve learned so much from these terrible experiences. Would I trade these experiences in, knowing I’d be a different me? Would I even know myself?
What have the bad times given you that you would have gotten in no other way? Is there a kind of art you can now make, that you would have never been able to try without your pain? Is there a unique way that you see the world? Tell me in the comments.
<3 <3 <3 to you.
Low Clouds on the Move (c) Windy Johansen.