How are you doing? a friend asks.
I can feel my body looking for the nearest hole to crawl into, I reply. Maybe I’ll fly overseas and return come May.
I’m partly serious.
At Calendar’s turn from February to a new month, I sense, I dread my visceral reaction. March and April represent the anniversary of dad’s stroke and death, and a myriad of emotions that fall in-between, including late-fallen Easter. If I could just fast-forward this season, well, that would be super swell.
A year since I heard his laugh, or watched him toss the boys on the couch.
A year since he patted my back or joked about checking with “The Little Mama” for dinner plans. Last night it was him I dreamt of, so familiar and real, I expected to open my eyes and see his smiling face.
365 days of journeying grief, not to mention a lifetime.
I’m no grief expert. Lord knows I’ve had my fair share of counseling, and conversations to put words to feelings, and walk one healing clock’s tick at a time. But as I reflect, as I’ve watched others lose loved ones, I’m reminded that I’ve learned much in this last year. And perhaps being a bit distanced from the former raw and fragile “me”, I can now share those grief experiences with clarity and retrospect.
In the midst of working on some “Series” projects for this here blog, I’ve put off writing on grief.
It’s not who I am. There’s more than my lot of loss.
Yes, there is. But it umbrellas everything, grief does. Now is the time. To process, and share stories, and offer insight into what a year of grief holds. I may as well pluck up the shiny and dull pieces of loss and hold them in outstretched hands. Come. Scoop into the cupped palms and pull out a grief story. Let’s look at it from every angle and tuck it away for such a time.
I haven’t lost anyone you say. Hug, wide smile. Good!
But you will, and if not yet, your neighbor or parent or co-worker will. If my failures, feelings, and grief observations can help usher perspective on this fumbly, uncomfortable word, that thought alone brings comfort.
Know this. Each of us are unique, with our own set of personalities and preferences and processing skills. I am one person, a daughter who lost her dad, with my own story. There are a million out there who have lost spouses, children, dreams. Loss wears many hats. But mine? I’ll share it freely and honestly- how grief has affected me in regards to:
and that’s probably only the beginning.
Conversation by conversation, we’ll talk candidly about loss. What if I have thoughts or questions along the way? By all means, throw it on the table, and we’ll chat about that too.
As we begin our GRIEF Series, let’s start with this question. It’s one I’m asked often, and love to answer. It’s not rocket science, guilt-inducing, or hard to do. Each of us can meet this need should we choose to step into it. It goes something like this:
So-and-so passed away. Now what? How do I support their family?
Show up. At the hospital. Don’t ask them to call you when they “need” you. Go now. Hug them. Tell them you are so sorry. Allow uncomfortable silence to sit. Ask yourself, What makes them feel loved? Flowers? Cookies? Music? Bring that, but mostly, bring your presence. Sit with your arm around them, and offer them the gift of nearness and empathy. You will never regret going. And few who are in deep grief will ever hold it against you for coming.
Loss is one of the most pivotal, intimate marks on one’s calendar. How will you shape a griever’s experience?
If you, or a loved one is grieving, invite them to this GRIEF series. I’d love to offer a cozy cup of tea and safe place to simply “be.” You have nothing but permission here- to hurt, celebrate, cry or curse. Thank you in return for letting my share my journey. I hope in some small way, it blesses you.