There's Still Time
A Better Way to Brace for Future Grief
Most times when people lose someone they love, they draw closer to their remaining family members because they don’t want to miss any more time. For me, it was just the opposite.
I ran away.
I distanced myself as much I could. I thought I could bury my hurt by burying my head in my work.
For the first time in my life, I was opened up to unspeakable pain. Unspeakable was a new landscape for me. I’d spent my entire adult life putting words to feelings, emotions, and sentiments that other people couldn’t; and for the first time, I couldn’t find the words for the tangible feeling I was holding. I was left opened up, wounded, and raw and every interaction with loved ones produced a type of angst that would drive my shoulders to my ears and keep me biting my finger nails to the nubs.
So I ran away.
Here was my line of reasoning: (I didn’t have words for it at the time. It’s clearer now)
It hurts that Sam is gone.
Everyone is going to leave at some point.
I’m closest to Sam, so that’s why it hurt so much. If I get closer to them, then it’s gonna hurt just as much when they leave.
WHY WOULD I WANT TO OPEN MYSELF UP TO INCREASED PAIN WHEN THEY GO?
Grief Messes With Your Logic
I thought I was protecting myself from future grief, when in reality, I was really only robbing myself of present joy.
I thought about future funerals (because that’s what you spend your time doing when loss is so fresh), and I realized how grief grabs the sponge of your logic with it’s cold long fingers, forms tight fists around it, and twists it until all the sane reasoning drips out.
Once I thought about it, I realized how empty my reasoning on was. Think about it. I wouldn’t be at future funerals with a smile on my face, reviewing excel spreadsheets that let me know I decreased my grief by 40% this quarter. I’d be crying different tears of loss. Tears of regret that I didn’t make the most of the relationships I had left. I wouldn’t minimize my grief by avoiding people, I’d compound it.
It made ALL the sense in the world, until it didn’t.
Sometimes realizations like this lead you to a special resolve to never waste another moment. This becomes some climactic moment that changes your life forever. Some mountain you’ve scaled that lends itself to amazing dinner conversation about how your life was never the same.
I wish I had that.
But I don’t. I think there’s parts of me that are still just as nervous, anxious, tender and scared. I notice my shoulders creeping upwards and my heart changing it’s tempo when I see certain names on my caller ID. So instead of some grand advice from someone who’s scaled this mountain, I’d rather offer you something as a fellow traveler.
A daily affirmation.
A Daily Affirmation: There’s Still Time
There’s still time.
If grief has made you feel like pulling away is the answer (especially on a day like today), I feel you.
I just want to remind you of one thing.
There’s still time.
Still time to tell loved ones how much you love them.
Still time to just let them know you’ve been going through it, and you need some more time to process.
Still time to find someone safe to talk to and unload.
Still time to take people up on their offers for prayer.
Still time, to just put your phone down.
Breathe in through your nose.
Exhale through your mouth.
And thank your Creator that you still have the ability to breathe in and out.
Day 9 of 30 Days of Hope. (If you’ve been following along and missed Sundays post, it’s because I didn’t write it. I’ve decided to take Sundays off writing. For 16 years, I worked on Sundays, so now in my post-pastorate life, I’ve decided to sleep in. Glad that y’all are continuing this journey with me. See you tomorrow.)