Zoe Clark-Coates reminds us that grief is an up and down journey. Just as we think we’ve mastered this, a song, a smell, a memory… rushes over us and we get knocked back. But, it’s not really a step back. Those grief rushes actually transport us forward.
In the very beginning of grief, I loved to listen to “Bob’s songs” – a collection of songs he loved that reminded him of the blessings of his life. I wondered if I’d ever listen to them without tears. That day did come. It’s like the last time you carry your child. It just happens without your realization that this is the last time. Now, I can see him singing along and treasure the memories. Just keep pressing forward.
This poem by Elena Mikhalkova is perfect for tonight, our family’s Christmas Eve. Our tradition was set at the beginning of our marriage to move our Christmas Celebration to the 22nd and 23rd, so that we could be with our parents in our home town of Ashland, Kentucky, on the 24th and 25th.
So, as we celebrate our 3rd year without that amazing husband, father, and Papa, we’re taking yet another step. Prayers as you take those steps as well.
My grandmother once gave me a tip:
In difficult times, you move forward in small steps. Do what you have to do, but little by little. Don’t think about the future, or what may happen tomorrow. Wash the dishes. Remove the dust. Write a letter. Make a soup. You see? You are advancing step by step. Take a step and stop. Rest a little. Praise yourself. Take another step. Then another. You won’t notice, but your steps will grow more and more. And the time will come when you can think about the future without crying.
I love this analogy. It reminds us that the love that our loved one left us is always there – represented in our grief. Yet, we learn to move forward with it as we grow around the grief. Just as a tree doesn’t really heal a wound. It grows around it, creating the knots that we see in the tree and the lumber that comes from the tree. And, usually, the knots add more depth and beauty. While I will always miss Bob and the retirement years we had looked forward to, I am learning to savor the memories and appreciate their beauty for what they are. I hope that for you as well.
I’m learning… And, I hope my journey is helping you, especially in this holiday season.
As I’m learning to move forward, I want to be intentional in representing both of us just as I did when he was physically beside me. He wanted me to be happy, and knew me well enough to know that I would stumble with that. Yet, I remind myself that I’m honoring him with carrying his light and laughter.
It’s possible to be thankful and heartbroken as well as happy and sad at the same time. These are not mutually exclusive feelings.
So many people have said to me, “But you should be thankful for the love.” I am! Believe me, I am. But that doesn’t remove the heartbreak of missing him. And, I am very happy when I’m with my grandchildren watching their activities and antics, but then I’m also sad that Papa isn’t here to make more memories with them.