Grief is such a unique experience. It’s an emotional awakening and revival that can not be anticipated. Nothing can prepare you for it’s realities. Nothing can take it’s realities away from you. However I am learning that having an honest desire and attempting to walk “through” the grief will get you that much further each day. I am unable to imagine understanding what it is like without having experienced it myself. Grief changes you. Puts you in a new place, where new things are important, and parts of you that have been closed off, begin to open up. Grief has now been my experience. I understand what it feels like. Helping someone go through grief is a daunting task. Grief is uncomfortable. On both sides of the interaction. For the one experiencing it and for those trying to help the bereaved. It doesn’t make sense and you’re afraid of saying the wrong thing, afraid of asking the wrong questions, afraid of doing the wrong thing and I’m just as afraid that you are going to ask me a question that I won’t know the answer to. 🙂 Or afraid that my answer will somehow not live up to what you were expecting to hear.
I am aware that people are not sure what to say when they see me. The one thing they are sure of is that they love me and want me to know that they love me. In my experience over the last few months, people feel like they have to acknowledge the loss, the grief, my pain in order to see how I’m doing. And I can’t say that if the roles were reversed that I would do any differently. Until you have experienced grief, you don’t know how to handle others who are in grief. But I have to be honest, at this point in my healing, I don’t want to talk about it all the time. I don’t want to constantly be going back there. To the beginning of this tragedy, to the most intense days of my grief and pain. I know it’s only been 8 months, but in a life where you have a 3-year old and a 7-year old, it feels like 8 years. 🙂 Add to that severe physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, counseling, and physical recovery and it feels like a lifetime. I need those in my life to be strong for me sometimes, to not take me back there each time they see me. Instead tell me you are so happy to see me. Ask me how my day is going? Ask me how my weekend went? Watch me. See how it looks like I’m doing for that day. But don’t just ask me the slow, low-toned, dreaded question “so how are you doing, Sandra?” Because that is such a HUGE question to answer and because honestly, I am doing as well as a 30 year-old widow with 2 small children is able to do. Each and every day God’s grace is sufficient to help me get through. Some days are brilliant and other days I have to work a little harder to find a place where I can breath.
The biggest change: I am a new creation. Grief and life experience has made me a different person, a new version of myself. Everyone has pain or grieves but they are often done in private, only shared with those they want to share with. My grief is public. My tragedy was on the news. My grief was a news story and therefore I have continued to allow it to be a public journey. Early on I had people approach me in grocery stores or restaurants to express their condolences. People I had never even met before. And I get it. Really I do and I don’t for a second want people to think I am unappreciative or angry about the way that they have loved and supported me. In the beginning, I DID need people to ask me how I was doing. Often. Several times each day. But now I live for the day when someone sees me for the first time in a while and says something like “Hey, Sandra, I love your dress.” Because they would not be seeing my circumstances, they would be seeing me. I’m still me. I’m me without Glen. I’m me who suffered a brain injury. I’m me with obvious holes in my life. But I’m me who is wearing a new dress. I certainly don’t mean to trivialize all of the kind, considerate, and loving ways that I have been approached and supported. I just want to help people see where I am now.
Hence the beginning of a new volume. Life has many volumes. Some filled with joy, others with pain, and still more with accomplishments, life-changing events, important people. And each volume has an end. Those periods of time in your life come to an end. And that volume goes on the shelf of your life. There is not a moment that goes by that I don’t miss Glen. I would give anything to see his sweet face and have his protective arms around me. However, the time I spend in that grief and the depth which it reaches has started to lessen. And suddenly, I feel ready to begin writing the next volume of my life. Not to throw out this current volume or forget it exists. It is and has been a fantastic and memorable volume in my life. But life’s twists and turns have left me with nothing more to write in it, so it must take it’s place on the shelf of my life. It will always be there for me to read on the days I want to relive those good times. Also on days where I want to remember the pain and tragedy of how the volume closed. But I need to close it nonetheless.
There has been so much that I have been holding on to. Refusing to let go of. And then the truth that has been lingering this whole time came to the front; life goes on.
My life goes on.
It has to go on.
And it has.
I had the absolute pleasure of a friend telling me, “thank you for being a shining example of love and hope. No matter what happens in life, if you have a pulse, God has a purpose. You are connected to and refresh my sense of knowing that people are good and there’s still a beautiful path in a dying world.”
And with that beautiful blessing in my head, I am beginning the next volume. Trusting God to lead me from chapter to chapter, knowing that He will grant the promises of the 23rd Psalm.
A psalm of David.
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he refreshes my soul.
He guides me along the right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk
through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies.
You anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely your goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord