Grief. What a complicated word “grief” is to me. I understand that it’s a feeling associated with loss that we have to work through. I get that it hurts. I get that it makes you feel like something is ripping your heart out of your chest. I have felt how grief takes your breath away and stops you cold in your tracks. What I’m wrestling with is all of the forms of grief we actually feel and how we pick up the pieces of our former selves and go forward in peace, without the nauseating feeling of pain that has struck us down.
Several weeks ago we lost our kitty. I loved him. He was mine to care for and to love. He kept my lap warm and reminded me to rest. He lifted my spirits. He wasn’t very fond of my nine year old. My son wanted that kitty to love him so desperately but kitty was finicky about whom he let love him. After many conversations and persuasive moves on my part, the kitty relented and little by little he let that nine year old love him too. In his last days, he loved on my son. He knew his time with us was coming to an end before we did and he let my little boy hold him, hug him and love him. I watched my son bestow so much affection and trust upon that cat. Then, kitty died. My son was crushed. I was devastated. A few days later we were in Petsmart and we saw a kitty that looked like the love we had just lost. We cried. My son begged to bring the look-a-like home. I said no that we needed time to grieve. A few minutes later my son repeated what I had said but with a question attached. “We’re grieving. Mom, what exactly is grieving and how long are we going to do it?” Great question dear boy, great question!
I haven’t been able to let this go partly because I miss my kitty but also because I am sitting helpless as a dear friend grieves the loss of her father. Nearly a year ago, my friend lost her daddy. She hurts. Her emotions are as a raw today as they were a year ago. Her heart aches and her chest is heavy, crushing her each day. In her grief, she can still see her daddy’s sweet smile and feel his hugs and hear his voice whisper to her. She mourns him with every single nerve that winds through her body. She mourns the loss of the grandfather to her children even more. She wants the pain to go away yet I sense she is afraid to let go of the pain. What happens when we start to let go of our grief? Do our memories begin to go as well? Do we feel a little less? If we let go of the fear and the pain, what replaces what is lost?
I ask these questions not because I have the magical and most wonderful answers but I have finally come to realize that grief doesn’t discriminate and it comes in all shapes and sizes. It’s not one size fits all. We can grieve what we have lost and what we never had. I ask because I feel as if I am surrounded by grief and maybe there’s a reason. I finally realize that when I found out that I had cancer nine years ago, delivered my son and learned I would bear no other children, I didn’t allow myself to grieve. I celebrated my baby but never let go of the fears associated with the grief and the loss. Now as I face further potential medical issues, I want a do-over. Standing in the mirror this morning and looking at the scars on my body, the ones visible to the eye and even the ones that I know are deep inside, I finally understand a little bit more about grief. We can’t always control when it comes or when it goes. We can’t control how we feel it or how we show it. I recognized that we also can’t stifle it or file it away for another day. Then, as if orchestrated by God and the universe, a song came on… Chris Tomlin was belting out “Every blessing You pour out I’ll turn back to praise. When the darkness closes in, Lord still I will say…”
Clearly that was meant for me. Thanks for the reminder! Today I will say thanks and praise. Thank you to God and the Universe for the gift of being able to love and to grieve. Today I am sending as much love to my friend 1,500 miles away that I can possibly send and am grateful for the kitty who let us love him and the daddy who loved his daughter with his whole heart and for the doctors who will keep me safe and well to raise my little boy. Today, I will sing along with Mr. Tomlin as I turn back to praise!