Wednesday, May 16, 2018

When a Grief journey has only just begun

Photo by Nicholas Bui on Unsplash

As I perused my 2005 journal for something unrelated, I was drawn to the following entry from August 24:
The process of grieving has just begun
and I will anticipate its steps now.
I had an anger event yesterday.
You know, with all I have (the girls)
I still wish I wasn’t living my life right now.
I feel like a fool… let me say it again, I feel like a fool.
I read those words and I sense just how sad they are. My three daughters were the only reason I didn’t make an attempt on my life nearly two years earlier, when another season of the profoundest grief had begun. I found at the time, and even now, the senselessness and confusion of having three precious daughters and yet their presence didn’t seem enough. How on earth could that be? Who and what would I have been without them? (Of course, my daughters were enough, yet this loss was about something I didn’t have and couldn’t have at this time.) But, that is grief — a normal response to an insurmountable loss — and grief understandably involves much irrationality as we wrestle through a quagmire of confusion, guilt and fear on our way back to some sense of mental, emotional and spiritual normality.
There is an insurmountable and most daunting nature about beginning grief. And it is worse when we’ve delayed the process years only to recognise we haven’t made any progress because significantly important details weren’t catered for. We can indeed feel very foolish to have wasted those days or years!
We’ve all heard that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, but the pain of grief marks such a commencement as defeat before we’ve even started. Everything is just so overwhelming, and there are levels of being overwhelmed which compound the enormity of the long road before us. And the most overwhelming thing is the present tsunami of wanting this reality to be over, now. It’s such a common thing to awaken having slept and lament the return of consciousness. The lived reality is just too hard.
Yet, still, we must start. We must turn away from the past in such a way as to acknowledge it as the launching pad for the travailing present and the anticipated future. We must believe for a future that is bridled in hope. We must begin the honest journey of suffering our feelings and all the maladaptive responses we’ll experience. We must know how messy it will feel and how ugly we will feel.
And we must have the wisdom to live life one day at a time, and know that this too shall pass.
Finally, we must gather a cavalry of support, an assemblage of guidance, a cohort of travelling companions who will help us hold on all the way through such a bucking ride.
There is one good thing about the commencement of a journey in grief. We placed the stake in the ground. Like the times in my life when I’ve wondered what was wrong and why I was in the doldrums; what a relief it was to say, ‘I have depression!’ because it meant I was starting a journey in climbing out of it.
At the beginning,
finally we have sight for the journey,
and where there is a beginning,
we believe for an ending.
When you feel as though you’re at your rock bottom worst, there is a realisation that grief is just starting. First time around it feels like a hole we cannot climb out of. But God has given it to us so we can learn, as others have, just how to do it, through the slow yet certain passage of time.
Starting the grief journey is a crucial means to an inevitable end — we do arrive, healed more then, than when we started.
I’ll never forget times I routinely awoke and immediately resented being conscious. Knowing there are people facing the same reality compels me to pray and reach out.
Share with those who care. Care so others will share.

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