In grief counseling, we learn that preschoolers, particularly children between the ages of 3 and 5, display searching behaviors when a loss occurs. Most seem to believe that young children will have little memory of the person, so there is little grief.
However, that is far from the truth. Even young children understand that a major change has happened and begin searching for the one they lost. They may view videos or pictures of the loved one or ask when and how the loved one might return. As we grow, we begin to understand that death is final. But, that’s at the cognitive (head) level. I believe that my heart will always search for his, because he’s still holding the other half. It’s so difficult to marry the understandings of the head to the emotions of the heart. That’s what I’m attempting to do as I share my journey. It’s human nature to sugar coat difficulty and paint a “Rainbows and Butterflies” picture of life. But, life isn’t always rainbows and butterflies. Sometime, life is trudging through mud and mire, and that’s ok, too.
This was one of the many values or ideals that Bob ascribed to. When we were first married and broke, I told him that we didn’t have any so that was a problem. But, those were wonderful years. We had each other, and that’s all we needed!
As we grew, I also grew to understand this concept more and more. I especially understood it as his health was failing. I would have traded any amount of money I had and gone into great debt to have his health back; to have him back. Loss is great lesson. It teaches us to value time, relationships, health, and all those things that can’t be purchased.
Today I’m sharing from one of the textbooks from the Grief Counseling course I teach as I think it’s so important that we realize that grief isn’t a box to check off. It’s a work in progress just as anything in life. We might feel all the way to acceptance one moment, then right back to shock and denial the next. That’s part of the process. I pray each day that your burden is less heavy with each moment you carry it.
This poem from Topher Kearby seems to sum up the above graphic on how we go through the stages of grief. Grief is messy. We just take baby steps wading through the emotions one step at a time. I will always miss my forever companion. Yet, I feel blessed with my children and grandchildren – little pieces of him still walking this earth – and everything else he gave me while he was physically present with me..
We don’t expect people to “move on” when something wonderful happens, so it baffles me that we expect them to move on when something terrible happens. When Bob came into my life, no one said, “You’re celebrating another anniversary. You need to get over that. You need to move on.” Or, when we sent out invitations to our children’s birthday parties, no one responded, “Another birthday! You need to move on.” Life does go on, and we move FORWARD. Yet, moving on implies that we leave them behind as in moving on and learning from a mistake. Loving him was not a mistake. I’d choose him every time! My love didn’t change when his address changed to Heaven.