Monday, December 16, 2013

A time to grieve and a time to dance.

People often have a difficult time coping with holidays after someone they love has died. It is particularly hard if the person has died during the holiday.

In the months after our son’s diagnosis, we were given a few streamers of hope to hold on to:

Perhaps God would reach down and heal him….

Perhaps the melanoma specialist in St. Louis would be able to enroll him in the clinical trial for the new drug that was showing so much promise…

But as December advanced, our grasp on those streamers became more and more tenuous.

I tend to think of December 13 as the day marking the beginning of the end of our son’s life, because that was the day he went to the hospital for a palliative operation to remove the tumor in his abdomen and was so sick that the surgeon cancelled the procedure.

That was the day we were told any further surgical treatment would be futile. The day the streamers of hope were jerked out of our hands. Our son’s physical life came to an end a few days short of a month later.

Last year grief settled heavily on my shoulders, like a heavy winter coat. I was not expecting that to happen; it was, after all, the second Christmas since his death. The surprise of it hit us like a 2 x 4. I barely functioned. I had little enthusiasm for anything. I don’t think I sent a single Christmas card.

I can feel it happening again this year, but not nearly as bad, perhaps just a windbreaker instead of an arctic parka.

We almost never cry anymore. If one accepts the definition of mourning as outward expressions of inward grief, then our time of active mourning appears to be coming to an end. Another stage in the process of adjusting to the new normal in our life and moving forward.

After every snowfall, the huge state dump truck with the plow on the front comes down the access road and scrapes the snow to the side, leaving a huge berm of snow right in front of our driveway when it turns around. Depending on how much snow was on the road, we could sometimes just drive through it, but on other occasions, we would have to go out with a pickaxe and shovels and break through the barrier so we could get out. This year, God bless them, our new neighbor got into his handy dandy little Bobcat machine and cleared the ridges of snow away from both of our driveways.

When it comes to grief, however, there is no helpful neighbor to clear it away…
I have learned that if we are to heal we cannot skirt the outside edges of our grief. Instead, we must journey all through it, sometimes meandering the side roads, sometimes plowing directly into its raw center, Alan D. Wolfelt, PhD
So, while acknowledging that the grief at our loss will never go away, it is indeed becoming less painful. The center is becoming a little less raw.

And this year, on December 13, the sadness was balanced a bit by my being able to share the joy of someone I love very much who was finally able to get married, to her companion of 26 years, in a happy celebration surrounded by her daughters and grandchildren and friends.

Being a conservative Christian and a political liberal often sets up a conundrum, and for me this is one of those occasions. I cannot set aside what I know the Bible says, but given that the situation with her is what it is, I am also so pleased for her that she now has the legal protections that everyone else is given under the law.


Susan said...

So well written!! I so relate. I am going to share the quote on fb. Thank you.

Far Side of Fifty said...

You are a strong woman, grief takes a toll and everyone deals with it differently. The holidays are very hard for the grieving. Some years are worse than husband is grieving for his Mother this year her birthday would have been this week and she has been dead and gone seven years:(

I am not so sure about these new marriage laws but I figure God will sort it all out:)