Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Thing about Grief

Grief is a puzzling guest.

Its strokes are broad, from numb to panic, with a million shades of deep sadness in between.

Sometimes it is honest, teeming with memories and moments that were sacred and must remain forever etched in the core of our family.

Sometimes it is a liar, shouting things like, "You can't do this without him. How is one day different from another? Why even try, when everything leads to panic and exhaustion?"

Sometimes it is even more confusing and confounding, when it whispers those words instead. Lies are further misleading when they are merely whispers.

Sometimes grief is warm, welcoming, and patient, washing me with cleansing tears.

Sometimes grief is angry and mean, burning a hole in me, with no tears left in my dry well.

It tempts me to claim it as my strength. It invites me to claim this purple heart, this badge of courage: Look What Was Taken From Me. Look how I am allowed to feel, for as long as I want, without any reprimand. I am learning that there is a quiet power in holding on to hurt, and a blanket of comfort can swiftly become a security or an identity, without my even noticing.

But sometimes, grief brings joy. They are not mutually exclusive. I can laugh with my friends, tickle my boys, enjoy a good meal, and play my music loud... and still grieve that he is not here to do that with me. To hear about it all.

Joy is a knowing.

I've known joy that takes over my whole being, keeps me from standing still, spills and splashes, and makes my heart sing. For this season, grief is here, settled in, making its home, and showing me its every shade. We are becoming deeply acquainted.

But joy is a knowing. And the joy of the Lord is my strength.

I'll feel that way again.


Claire said...

I have found grief to be an episodic guest who arrives without invitation and stays for varying lengths of time. Sometimes I am prepared for grief's arrival and other times I am completely taken aback when grief shows up. Regardless, I receive grief as graciously as I can, spending time as I would with any guest, learning from grief as much as I am able to take in with the knowledge that grief will come again. To teach, to wash, to release, and to send me on until I can trust and embrace love again. Praying for you daily as you continue the journey.

Allison said...

Oh how I love this, Claire's comment as well. Much of my past seven months has been trying to describe this guest to friends who've never entertained such. And you touch on the other quandary, where is the line between grace to grieve and license to sin? No one else will point it out but it must be there somewhere, eventually, right? I am voicing this from a point of introspection not observation or judgement. I feel such peace and satisfaction in reading your words and feeling how they resonate. Thank you for crafting and sharing them. May your heartbreak be bathed by the love of those around you.

Amy said...

Still praying for you and your family.

Terry said...

even as your tears are cleansing, tricia, so is the joy that is overflowing from your heart as you KNOW that the joy of the lord is your strength and your strength you give away freely to your sons!...with love from terry

Lisa Amoroso-Johnson said...

When I look at pictures of Robb, I see his dad's smiling eyes...When Craig would talk about him, he'd radiate pride. I especially remember him talking about how kind, gentle, and funny Robb was.

I'm so glad that you and Robb found each other and were blessed with a rich and beautiful love.

thewonderfulhappens said...

Your writing is beautiful. Thank you for sharing this.

karen said...

as strange as it may sound, I have learned to embrace this guest. Perhaps it is because I have had 4 years now; I'm not sure. I think that it is God's grace that allows me to do this. My prayer to Him is that I would learn from this journey all that He wants me to learn.
Do I still have waves of grief overcome me--yes. I am often surprised by this. Fortunately these waves are further and further apart and the calm seas in between hold much joy.
I love reading what other widows share; it helps me understand my journey that much more.
hugs and prayers for you as well as Claire and Allison
love you Tricia