So this is what grief feels like

The Standard April 1, 2023

Before Tuesday, never had I taken one breath that she was not somewhere on this earth also breathing. Mom died three days ago. I can’t count the number of times since then when something funny or a newly discovered fact popped into my mind and my first thought was to pick up the phone to call her. I hardly know what day it is. Busyness offers a welcome relief, an appreciated distraction.

There are countless plans to be made, policies and services to be cancelled, an obituary to be written plus an apartment to be cleaned out. The clothes in the closet, the accessories, the housewares- except for the meaningful, memorable ones- all seem so trivial – things which in the end mean nothing without the person to whom they once were associated.

I’ve found myself going hours when everything seems normal. I’ve been able to laugh at gobs of Mom Quotes and Mom Ways. I can see and relish the memory of her hands, those I loved to stroke since I was a child and was honored to hold the hours before and after her death. At times, a pall looms overhead and I can’t shake the feeling of a hole within my core which never will be filled. Usually not a crier, tears can hit me out of nowhere. I vacillate between an empty feeling in the pit of my stomach and a flood of gratefulness for a myriad of hilarious memories which include exceptionally interesting people, trips and events we Manson children experienced.

No matter how extraordinary a life or how many resources and connections one had at their disposal, in the end everything is reduced to a failing body and the question of how one’s life was invested. Was it in the temporal or in the eternal?

It seems like a vicious cycle. Unless we outlive them, our children one day will know the pain of losing a mother or a father. The thought of their eventual grief might hurt us more than our own. From my limited, fleshly perspective, I do so wish humans did not have to go through this. And yet, people face death every day. It is part of the human condition. The inevitability of the decay of our physical bodies is a tension God did not originally intend. Death entered the world through sin.

Grief is incredibly personal. There is no right or wrong way to grieve and no perfect timetable. We want to grieve as those with hope, but also to go on living. If we fail to give ourselves permission to take time to work through this, we hurt ourselves and limit our ability to empathize with others. We must mull over God’s eternal perspective that death now is as natural as birth. Thank God for the amazing tenderness and dedication displayed by Mom’s hospice workers and doctor! For them it truly was a calling.

Despite my current experience that busyness is, in many ways, a blessing and that diving into the details of planning and taking care of necessary business make for welcome diversions, I must not avoid stopping and allowing myself to acknowledge and mourn the gaping void in my heart. Working through a to-do list and marching onward may feel better, but they ignore the underlying fact that it is incredibly sad to be missing someone whose presence brought such frequent joy. Our longed-for wholeness never will be fully realized until the hour comes to meet Jesus face to face. Certainly, our pain is not the pain of our loved ones who have gone to heaven. We can rejoice in that. Still, it hurts. Words of Scripture offer comfort.

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. He who was seated on the throne said, ‘I am making everything new!’.” (Revelation 21:4-5a)

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells. God is within her, she will not fall; God will help her at break of day. Nations are in uproar, kingdoms fall; he lifts his voice, the earth melts. The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.”  (Psalm 46: 1-7) “He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.’ The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.” (Psalm 46:10-11)

“I remember my affliction and my wandering, the bitterness and the gall. I well remember them, and my soul is downcast within me. Yet this I call to mind and therefore I have hope: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore, I will wait for him.’ The Lord is good to those whose hope is in him, to the one who seeks him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” (Lamentations 3:19-24)

1 thought on “So this is what grief feels like

  1. Such a beautiful, meaningful message, Celia, that expresses the many tides of grieving. As you expressed so clearly, “ it is , indeed , a part of living.”
    Or as KhalilGibran said in The Prophet, “ You would know the secret of death.
    But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?”

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