This was actually written by me in April of 2017. I'm only just now able to publish it, for whatever reason. I hope it helps someone to understand the reality of their grief and realize that they will make it through it (but probably never get over it).
I haven’t written much since my father passed away two months ago. Honestly, it feels like I’m slogging through a tar pit lately, not sure from day to day what I’m going to feel like. As emotional of a person as I have been in the past, I’m not at all sure I like the extremes of grief. One minute I feel capable of coping and ready to take on the tasks of my job and ministry, the next I’m rendered all but incapacitated by my sadness. There are moments lately when I find it hard to even breathe. I know it’s normal. I know it’s part of this journey. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t suck, though.
I’ve jokingly told my closest friends, “I’m eating my feelings…and boy, are they delicious.” The truth is, I’ve never been one of those people who lose their appetite when they’re sick, so why would I think this would be any different? I saw a meme the other day that said, “I have a feeling my final words will be, ‘But I’m still hungry…’” In the meantime, wedged in between bad eating, snacking, baking constantly, and thinking about what’s in the pantry that I can fix, my husband has decided to go on a low-carb, high-protein regimen. I looked at him with disdain and cursed under my breath, thinking that if I make him a ham and cheese omelet, I will just make myself one with a side of toast. Me! The one who skips breakfast and opts for coffee with my coffee. It’s like an alien has taken over my body and is ordering me around while I just schlepp from point A to point B, a donut in one hand, a box of Kleenex in the other, muttering, “I can’t believe he’s gone.”
There’s no shortage of advice from well-meaning friends, and I do so appreciate hearing from people who’ve walked the well-worn path of grief. One phrase I’ve heard from several different people is, “You don’t ever really get over it; you just get through it.” I hate that. I don’t want to get through it or go through it. I want to rewind time. I want one more conversation with him. I want to tell him all the things I somehow left unsaid; things I relegated to a stupid Father’s Day card instead of saying out loud, things that I was too damned busy to take the time to say, face-to-face, skin-to-skin. I want another one-on-one, another ride in the car alone with him, another phone call where he would apologize for keeping me too long (I never felt it was long enough). I want one more chance to rub his feet or let him tell me a long story about something he recalled from 75 years ago when he was a boy in the deep woods of East Texas. I want to watch the light in his eyes as he recalls a funny escapade with one of his high school buddies. I want to watch “Lonesome Dove” with him once more until 2 in the morning, and cry together when Call finally returns to Lonesome Dove after burying Gus.
I just want more.
I know I’m not alone in this awful tug of war between reality and wishful thinking, but I feel a bit ashamed when I realize that I’ve ignored it in other people all this time, not having a clue what it would really feel like once it happened to me. I’d like to be able to say I’m truly sorry to each and every person who’s lost a parent, a spouse or a child, for patting them on the shoulder and saying, “I’m sorry,” when the truth is, I didn’t know just how devastating it would truly turn out to be. Looking at the stages of grief, I can sort of guess that I’m in the anger stage, and I can say, without much hesitation, that I am rather upset with God right now. This is not something that is keeping me awake, nor am I worried that I will offend the Almighty with my questioning of His ways. He is sovereign, this much I believe without question. But recognizing and acknowledging God’s Supreme rule over all things doesn’t mean I have to like it right now. I think this death thing sucks big time. This separation of the flesh from the spirit at the end of life. The brevity of life. The pointlessness of it all. Ugh. Sorry, not sorry, Lord.
I guess I just needed to say a few things, in between my latest crying jag and my next bad snack. A dear friend expressed to me that I need to “practice radical self-care.” Does that include breathing? Because there are some moments when that’s pretty much all I can manage. I know there will be better days. I know the worst may not be over. I get it. It is what it is. For now, I will take it one moment, one memory, one regret, one hope for the resurrection at a time.
16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. (2 Corinthians 4)