Sunday, March 3, 2013

miss, but do not mourn

i laid down in bed, i read and prayed and started to go to sleep.   my mind wandered and then i remembered leaning over my brother's casket and tucking something in.   i started to cry again.   i don't know why.   it's been 7 years.   but here i am, awake, crying, i can't seem to leave the memories.   i have school tomorrow and need to go to sleep, but, i cannot lay in bed and cry the rest of the night either.   the only solution is to write.

7 years ago, i was training to be a bus driver.   i came home between ride alongs.   as i walked up the driveway to my house, i checked my messages.   my sister left a message that said, that she didn't think this was the best way to tell me but our brother had died that morning.   i couldn't walk, i slowly stumbled to the ground and cried right there in the driveway.    i started to crawl and then got to my feet to get inside the house.   i felt totally lost, i didn't know what to do.   at some point i called my job and told them i would not be coming back that day or the rest of the week.   i called my mom and grandmother.   i had to tell my 7 almost 8 year old son that his favorite uncle had passed.

the next few days seemed so strange.  i didn't understand why i should have to eat or wake up or do anything.   i would walk outside and just stand, astounded that people were still driving around, walking their dogs as if nothing had happened.   why was the world still turning?!   why was life continuing?!   why was the world not clad in black and white?!   it was as if no one knew how great a tragedy had just occurred.  there was a small logical speck of me that understood but the rest of my being was just devastated.   so, the week progressed.    we gathered at his house and recorded memories of him for his then 1 year old daughter.   we went to the funeral.   we ended up having to leave after the church service because my son had a tooth abscess and we got to make an emergency visit to the dentist to have 4 teeth pulled.   this was such a random thing to happen but probably good for my son to distract him, as strange as that is.

we still shed many tears as the weeks went by.   slowly, we adjusted.

four years later, my grandfather had a stroke.   we spent several months going to the hospital, and then brought him home to be comfortable until he passed.   we took shifts staying with him so that my grandmother could still work.   not only was she the only income after his stroke, it was good for her to have a break, something else to do.   in the midst of this, i found out that i was pregnant.   i stood at my papa's bed side and told him about his next great grandchild that was on the way.   i prayed that he would hold on to see him born.   the look in my grandfather's eyes when he held a grandbaby for the first time is something that no words can describe.

the first sunday in april, i lay in bed, still pregnant, when my husband said words that i had been having nightmares about.   he woke me up and asked if i wanted to go down and say good-bye.   my papa had passed away.   i said it was too late to say good-bye, then rolled over and cried.   he went down and helped my mom and grandma prepare my grandfather's body for the mortuary.

later that day, we had to tell the kids.   our two children had grown up spending an immense amount of time with him.  it is a gift that most do not get.

we spent the day with my grandmother, a strange few hours with my grandfather's body waiting for the mortuary.   we kind of floated through the day in a fog.   people came, and people went.   some stayed for a while, some brought food, some just wanted to stop to offer condolences, but all were lost as to what to say.   they all wanted to make it better, to ease the suffering, to heal the wound.   it is a helpless place to be.

again, the week went by.   this time we were busy with funeral plans and trying to not think about it.    we had the funeral, we had the bag pipes play, we had the service men come and give my grandmother a folded flag, we had to go home at some point, we cried, and we prayed.

this time, the weeks went by, but i did not adjust.   i found myself in a well.   i was mourning.   i knew i could not just let go and sink into the depths of despair, but it was all i wanted to do.   i sank deeper and deeper.   the mourning was overpowering.

then, one night, still pregnant, i got up to go to the bathroom.   i was still drifting in this ever darkening place.  i walked by the mirror by my bedroom door.   i saw myself in my big white sleep shirt.   it seemed to glow.   for one fleeting instance, i was in a heavenly place.    i understood.   it was one of those moments when a world is revealed without words and words cannot explain it.

why do i tel you all of this?   over the last year, i have had friends lose loved ones.   i have heard people ask, "what do i do?   what do i say?"  i feel compelled to tell you all of this so you know.     the answer is: nothing.

that was lots of help wasn't it?

it really is the answer.

this is what i say to you if you are in this place.   if you are suffering, if you have lost, this is all i can offer.

nothing is going to make it better.   time will not heal it, words are empty.    it will never in this life be ok.   now, here is the good news, you will get used to it.   it will not get better but you will adjust to it.   you will continue living your life but you will have to change some of the things that you do.   it's like losing an appendage.   you will live through it, but it will require you to learn a new way to do it.

if you find that you are not adjusting, you are sinking, mourning uncontrollably.   here is what i learned in that split second in white.   you are not this body.  we are all spirits.   spirits are forever.   the body is only flesh.   the person, the personality, the humor, the love, the memories, the moments, are in the spirit.   the spirit lives forever.   all of the things you miss in that person, are still there, still intact.    you can't see them or touch them, but they are still the same person, alive and well.  to you, i say, miss them, but do not mourn them.   they are not gone, they are not even far away.   allow yourself to live.   allow yourself to adjust.

for you that suffer, i am sorry.   for those who try to comfort those who suffer, i am also sorry.  you are helpless to help.   make them dinner, bring them cards, do all of the things that we do to try to help each other through rough times.    but don't worry if you can't seem to comfort them.   you can't, and that is ok.

 i heard a talk recently from a man who lost his son that explained it pretty well.   here is the link if you would like to reference it.

because I live, ye shall live also.

now, if you take nothing more from this that a few words, take these.

it will never in this lifetime be ok, but you WILL adjust.

and MISS, but do not MOURN. 

remember, people may say, "i'm sorry for your loss."   but they are not lost.   you know right where they are.   never doubt, they are keeping track of you as well.

i'm back now, with an update. . . or whatever.   

this morning, i got on fb and found that a dear friend and family member had passed away.  i had begun to think i could handle this, that i had some experience.   while i do have experience, and some very good advice, i have also discovered that, for me, every time is different in some way.  

we've all been talking in my head, (because i am cheaper and more helpful than any therapist), and i keep telling myself the things that i told you in this post.   but for some reason, i just keep answering, "but, i'm not ok.".     i know i don't have to be ok.      i know that it will never be ok.       i know all of this, so why am i not ok with not being ok?   (how's that for really technical terms that eloquently explain the situation?)

actually, i have an answer.   (how's that for results?)   it's because it really stinks!   (too technical?)    you can know that it stinks.    you can try to prep yourself.   you can think your ready.   you can think that you know how to deal and be logical, philosophical,  analytical and any other -icals you rely on.   ultimately, and unfortunately, you have to go through the tough stuff.   you have to pass through this stinkin' rotten, awful, questioning, hurting, "not ok" part.   i dealt with it today, and will surely deal with it in days to come, with tears.   with memories.   maybe its harder to only share those memories with myself.   it was good to talk and laugh and remember my papa and brother with others.  maybe, listening to memories is something you can do for those that mourn.  laughing, and crying, and sharing the life is important.

i have over the last year, come to another conclusion.   ironically, death and birth have some things in common.   you can think your ready, and prepared, but your not.  you can think you know what to expect, but you don't.    and, both have some really stinky parts to them.   here's the strange part, stick with me and wrap your brain around this - we live as spirits, we leave that realm, that part of our souls life and come to this mortal part of the journey.   a death and birth of sorts from one to the other.  then, we put down this mortal body and our soul continues it's journey from her to the next part of the journey, a death and a birth, of sorts.   each time, we leave people we love and join other people we love.   but, when you know that the soul is the true personality, taking lessons and experience from one to the other, it doesn't seem so bad.   still stinks, because you miss those that have moved on.   but,  it isn't so sad and you realize something.   to quote the great bambi's mom's words, "it seems long, but it won't last forever.".

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