what’s next?

In many ways, things were easier this time last year.   

Stephen died on December 7th and I don’t really remember much of the 3 -4 months that followed.  I was inconsolable and totally immersed in my grief. Nothing intruded – not the need for food, personal hygiene, my job, holidays, birthdays, or other commitments; these things never even entered my mind.  My world consisted of grieving, crying, remembering and sleeping.  It was unimaginable, but I had no idea how much harder things would become.

After I decided that I wanted to live, it took all my strength to get through a day – one minute at a time.   I was consumed with figuring out how to “do” daily life: return to my job, deal with obligations, interact with people and simply act normal.  I struggled to care because it hurt so much; I just wanted it all to stop. This was the hardest thing I have ever done.  I am thankful for the support and love from friends and family which kept me going as God continued to heal my heart.

I realize as I reflect on that time, that I succeeded in handling daily life but failed to figure out how to live.  

I’m still not sure I have an answer, but I know what I don’t want:

-If I stay “in” my grief & live in the memories, I keep Stephen close to my heart, but I lose me.

-If I cram down the pain and try to get on with my life, then I am packing him away so, I lose him.  And I’m living a lie, so I lose myself too.

Neither of these is an option.  The only thing that I can do is make my life count so I can honor him and keep on living.

Now I just have to figure out what that looks like……..

 

 

 

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perfume and pearls

Each day, the sun rises and sets. The seasons change.
In the garden, flowers bloom and then die.

Death is like the tide – it just is.

Every time I hear of a death, I immediately think, “there is another mother who lost her child.”
I’m not sure how we survive the death of a child, but we do. We find a way to live – not just to survive. But we are changed forever.

When bad days happen, I struggle to stay present but I am sucked backwards in time. With a foot in the past and one in the present, I try to carry on through the day. And, when I am tempted to – again – ask WHY? – I think about this quote by Margaret Brownley,

“perfume can only be produced by crushing flowers; something beautiful must first die…”

I know my face reflects my rawness and I really don’t care. A part of me is gone; I feel diminished, a shadow of my former self.
I am, somehow, less than I was.

And yet I am softer: I feel other’s energy and acutely sense their pain. I am infinitely stronger; I can now survive anything. My discernment is magnified, and I’m crystal clear about what really matters.
Does that mean that, in some way, I am more than I was before my son died?

Rarely is something created without pain and perseverance.  I wonder if our new self (our new normal) forms in the same way as a pearl is created? Do you think our hardship refines us?

lifelong journey

In the midst of despair, being reminded that tomorrow is another day provides no comfort because it’s hard to believe tomorrow will be any better.” Surviving Grief and Tragedy – The Spark Within, by Michael Josephson  

I was confused when people told me I was “getting better.”   Yes, I was less distracted; I could read a few sentences; and remember a few more things.  But, I didn’t feel better.  My heart hurt.

Prayers – so many prayers – for healing, and then waiting for whatever was next.  When I had a good day, I was convinced that I was starting into the next phase – moving on towards “better.”  That made the bad days all the more devastating.

the big a ha

Weeks went by before I it finally hit me: there are no milestones, no half-way points, and certainly no end to this process.  This is a  lifelong journey that feels like scaling vertical rock face.  I have to decide if I choose life.  And I get to choose – every single day –how I want to live that life.  

Andy Warhol said, “They always say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”