Sitting With Grief

grief

You may have noticed I have been missing in action as of late.  I have learned, from doing it wrong so many times in my life, that grief takes an enormous amount of energy.  When I am in a season of grieving, I have to give it space.  That means giving up other things, so sorrow can have some room to breathe its work into my life.  Surely tears flow, and my mind certainly runs in circles, but the deeper work is a work of the heart.  That kind of work takes time and fully giving myself to grief, instead of numbing it.

And there are so many things to grieve at this moment.  So.  Many.  Things.  If it were only one thing, say the death of my father-in-law, for whom we have been caring for years, I might know better how to sit with the pain of it.  The long suddenness of his death has created a hole of time and emotion.  The ripples felt from that event alone have spread outward and created their own sort of turbulence, which has required some off the grid time for me to help my husband grapple with how to move forward.

In addition, I spent yesterday moving my son to a new place, which is its own kind of stress. The positive kind.  (Except for the physical effort in the heat of July in Georgia, and emotional feels because I will miss his nearness.)  In the middle of the move, I got a call from my sister that my mother was in the ER with abdominal pain.  One thing caring for the elderly teaches you is how to shift gears with lightning speed.  You never know what is coming or when, and when something pops up you drop everything and go.

Only this time, because of Covid, none of us were allowed to go in with her.  My mother, who cannot tell you her name, her birthday, what is wrong with her, or any other information, was lying in the hallway of an overcrowded ER for hours.  Alone.  It was a special kind of torment for us, as we waited for hours, turning a nearby restaurant into a waiting room, for word of her condition.  Eventually, we learned her digestive system was impacted and she would have to have some uncomfortable procedures to fix the problem.  Again, we waited, imagining her confusion and fear of what was happening to her, without one of us there to hold her hand and explain.

Fortunately, this time, she had a nurse who listened to us and understood what we were telling her over the phone.  She stepped in to be one of us as much as she could, hand holding and comforting.  After 7 hours, they released Mom with a clean bill of health.  Despite some vomiting in the car, she made it back home and Dad was overjoyed to see her.  The good news is she didn’t even remember going to the hospital at all.  At this point, her dementia is more torture for us than it is for her.  Now, after her ER visit, she and Dad will be in lock down for 14 days, so we will be unable to see them.

Add to all of this my job loss and subsequent search, which has proved to this point, unsuccessful and it is a lot on my plate.  Grief is surrounding me but I am sitting down with it.  Holding some space for it to delve deep.  Sorrow is riding just behind my eyes and often times overflowing.  I am listening.  Processing.  Talking to my therapist.  Sleeping hard sometimes.  Staying awake others.  I think right now, this is my job.  To hang out with my mourning, knowing that joy will eventually follow.

I haven’t even mentioned grief of a global pandemic and what it is doing to our country.  I watch and talk to my friends around the world, and I shake my head and shrug at our petty fighting here in the US.  It is embarrassing.  It is childish at best.  My heart is aching for those starving and dying in the countries I have been to, and how blind we are in my own.

In the midst of all of this, I am guarding the soft place repentance has brought to my heart concerning racism.  God has plowed up the hard ground and planted seeds there.  He is watering them and nurturing them.  The more I dig, the more complex things become.  The more I learn and unlearn, the more I realize how much I don’t know and cannot see.  It is a delicate process to open blind eyes.  One which I am tenderly shielding from the comments of my friends as I go deeper into the very roots of my belief system.  It is humbling to realize the foundations of the world as I know it are built on such blatant inequity.  I recognize, not only do I not have any answers, it will take me years to figure out the questions.

To say I have a lot of grief is an understatement.  We ALL do right now.  Navigating it takes effort and energy.  It requires me to be gentle with myself and to pull away from harsh things, words, behaviors, and actions.  At the beginning of the shelter in place months ago, I felt God was telling me to get on my face and keep my head down.  To listen only to his voice.  To humble myself and to wait on him.  He hasn’t released me from those directives, yet.

While the chaos is swirling around and the world is coming unglued, I am allowing grief to do its work.  It is teaching me to appreciate life, to have compassion, to consider others, to throw out toxins, to give and receive grace, to take care of my health, to purge my emotions, to open my eyes, to evaluate my thoughts, to guard my heart, to have courage, to use my voice, and to celebrate the little things.  What is grief teaching you?

7 thoughts on “Sitting With Grief

  1. Oh, my dear, dear friend…..
    I dare not even attempt to offer any words of comfort for such deep grief. They would only fall short.
    I do want you to know how very sorry I am for the pain and suffering you and your family are suffering and that I grieve with you and for you, my dear friend.
    I have been and continue to lift you all to the throne of grace, asking OUR DEAR LORD for His Mercy and Grace in your time or need.
    Sending much love to you. ~ Terry

    • Terry, I know you know the depth of this better than I. No one has escaped this trial without some measure of grief, but yours is such a deep profound loss I can only echo your prayer for mercy and grace. Bless you, my friend.

  2. Thank you again, Michelle for taking your time to write your blog. Yes, reasons for grief are everywhere – in the outer world, the racial struggles, the violence, other peoples/cultures struggle for equality and justice – the excruciating effort to understand when others preach blame and shame and systemic guilt and systemic evil – the pain of watching news of children being killed in our streets and in their homes – the always-it-seems struggle with our own personal family illnesses and the importance to show patience, cheerfulness and attentiveness and faith/strong personal faith and faith shared with others.
    Actually, the most important thing, learned by me at this time, is: Experience the joy of living, the joy of sharing others lives, even the blessing of being leaned upon and counted on for joy to be shared with others as they struggle. Yes, JOY.! Some of that comes from observing the beauty of the earth, the beauty of children, of neighbors, of each relative/ our own kin – and, strange as this may sound: Humor, laughter, especially shared laughter. The Lord has blessed our family with friends who can have us laughing in a wink. You know, those rare people who just carry the goodness of mirth as part of their gifts to others? God bless them. Not everyone can exhibit that quality and share it with others.
    When your mother’s face comes to my mind, it is with a cupid’s-bow smile and twinkly eyes.
    My prayer for you this week is that you will come into contact with one of those special angels who carry the magical, mystical, miraculous gift of mirth. – luv, mary

    • I am all about humor and mirth!! A little lacking these days for me, so I will accept your prayer wholeheartedly!! Thank you for spreading your joy. I have just the picture of Mom with that smile and those twinkles in her eyes. Sweet memories. She still has laughter, even though she doesn’t know what she is laughing at some of the time. Mostly it is Dad making her giggle like a school girl. We thank God every day for her cheery disposition!

  3. My heart breaks for you, my sweet friend. And you’re right, sadly enough, grief is no respecter of persons. We all have to go thru the loss of our parents, aside from going before them, there’s no escaping it. How heart wrenching to visualize your precious Mom alone in that situation. I’m so glad all went well and she was able to go home. My sister’s father-in-law went thru that horrible hospitalization situation, then moved to the Oaks for weeks, came home for 4 hours then learned he had contracted covid, went back to the hospital and never came home again. All of which was followed by panicked quarantine for all of the children and wife of 87 yrs. old. They couldn’t be there for him when he left to be with the Father. This is a terrible time BUT not only are we comforted that we will see them again, we are also comforted that Christ, our Messiah will come for us…soon.
    *** “Therefore encourage one another with these Words” ***1 Thess 4:13-18 13 Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 14 For we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord’s word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.
    It’s going to be ok. ♥

  4. I was googling a phrase a friend started to use and stumbled on this. I thought you were in Minneapolis. I’m in Minneapolis and we are having super hard conversations. I have moments I want to meet everyone here so I can pray for them. There is real struggle. I’m so glad to have found your words. It is 90° which is unbearable here, but not Georgia hot. Everything is difficult and crabby. Everything. What I have learned is that ALL of humankind IS made in God’s image. We are ridiculously amazing in some ways and lack in others ways. We need each other to learn about ourselves, but that seems to be more effective if pressure is on. So, what I mean is: it will get better, but grief and struggle are a time to become more. Also, when you think you are alone, there are people who care, even if you will never know or meet them. 🙂

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