Waking yourself up crying is not the kind of thing you easily forget. In fact it is the exact opposite of what the mournful psalmist David writes in Psalm 30:5 (b), “Weeping may endure for a night but joy comes in the morning.” When reading this passage the first thing that may come to mind is…
“Guess what David? You’re a great poet but you’ve got this all wrong. Morning should be spelled mourning. I know you think weeping is for the night, but it’s morning and I’m still crying.”
This kind of grief is the kind you wake up to. It’s the kind that reaches all the way down to your guts and spills out of your unconscious being. There are no words anyone can say to you in that moment. Really the only thing you want is someone to hold you and even though that may help for a while, like a wave, grief comes again and again and threatens to knock you over leaving you terrified that you won’t be able to tread through that kind of pain any longer.
Fortunately, for me I didn’t have too many more “crying myself awake” mornings after my Dad’s death and I had been blessed with a beautiful son to love and care for. Some people aren’t so lucky though. They are literally left alone without a single person or pet in the home. They may have grown fearful at the thought of going it alone or they may turn to substances and unhealthy activities, behaviors or relationships. Questions undoubtedly arise that there are no answers for.
Questions in particular I’ve had are “If joy comes in the morning, then why am I still crying?” and “Will I ever feel normal again?”
The reality is there isn’t any easy way to answer this AND there shouldn’t be. Crying, getting angry, feeling desperate, alone, troubled, weak, sickly, torn, devastated, and empty are all perfectly normal reactions when you lose someone you love. What if instead of trying to make all those awful feelings go away as quickly as possible, we chose to honor them by allowing them.
Ask yourself, “How am I supposed to feel?” If you can answer this honestly you may be on your way to honoring your grief and the one your troubled soul misses.
My dad was diagnosed with stage 4 prostate cancer at age 50. He was sick for over 2 years. My mother spent many nights with him during the several months he stayed in the hospital waiting for his miracle. While he was there, I was working full-time saving up for the birth of our firstborn because I knew I would be quitting my job to stay at home. My entire first year of marriage and first pregnancy was filled with the expectation that my dad could go at any moment. No one can really describe all the feelings a woman will have during her first year of marriage or her first pregnancy but I can say I never cried myself awake before and never have since, but I did then.
Daddy finally did go just two weeks after our son was born and three days before my birthday. Ironically, our son was born in the same hospital my daddy died in. The good part is that he was able to meet our son. He was barely lucid when we made that visit. The only thing he could say the moment I introduced him though was… “I see… I see…. I see…”, and with each “I see,” his voice grew louder and more passionate. After Daddy died I knew he held on as long as he could so he could meet our son. This was the first time I felt instead of mourning I could be grateful my Dad had been given the opportunity to “see” my son.
Today if you are mourning a loved one try this:
“See” life from your loved ones perspective. It was clear my Daddy saw my son and was delighted to meet him. I imagine he was happy for me too. Knowing this was the case I “see” other events in my life from my Dad’s perspective and imagine him smiling, making a joke or even bragging about me or one of my kids to a co-worker or really anyone that will listen. Somehow I find comfort knowing how he must “see” my life even though he isn’t here to witness it. What are some of the ways your loved ones would see your life now?
This post is dedicated to the countless loves of my life. I miss you.
Every December like millions around the world, I celebrate the “anniversary” of Christ’s birth. Every December, it’s loveliness with Christmas trees, nostalgic sounds of Nat King Cole, mamma’s baked specialties, Hanukkah menorahs and lights… lots of them. Some of those lights belong to my birthday cake, so each December I’m reminded that I’m another year older. Without fail, I feel a twinge of anxious grief as November comes to a close and while I’m not thrilled at the number on my driver’s license, the grief I feel is not really about getting older, but about another December anniversary… the anniversary of my father’s death.
If you are someone like me who has lost a loved one during the holidays, you know exactly what I mean when I say there is a part of you that wishes the world would go away so you can hide while people sing, “Joy to the World.” Really what you’re thinking is “I can’t wait for this holiday to be over so people will stop singing about how the ‘LORD has come’, because in reality you just want your loved one to come back through the door instead.
This year I wanted to make a difference to those who are grieving. Over the next few posts, I hope what I have to share will help you find a glimmer of joy in these dark days. My wish for you is that you will be able to honor your grief, honor your loved one, honor your loss and give yourself permission to find the words, feelings and experiences you need in order to make it through the holidays.