The Hidden Face of Grief

Life is funny and then it’s sad. Life is a dance and then it’s a struggle. And then the sun comes out and all is grand. And then night falls.

Today, metaphorically speaking, I’m waiting for the sun to come out. I’m in a place in life I never thought I’d be and I’m walking in circles. I didn’t choose to be where I am—at least I didn’t consciously choose to be here. Instead I feel I’ve bounced from one experience to another, pushed about by destiny as a child, shoved by my adolescence and driven by an internal clock that demanded I follow steps in order, then tossed wildly as a parent by the choices of my daughters and the consequences that followed.

No, that’s not fair. I made some stupid choices. And I made some good ones. The same is true of my daughters. Only some of their choices were catalysts for reactions that shuffled me in a specific direction, but once on a path I made my own reactive choices that turned me in another direction. Action. Reaction.

(I would have liked to have known Newton so that we could sit at a bar one night and debate his theories.)

Truth be told, I’m a walking oxymoron. I’m happy with my life in general, but I’m unhappy with the pushes and shoves I’m experiencing right now in all aspects of my life. I feel tired, exhaustion in every pore of my body, and yet I’m restless. My mind wants to take flight and escape, but it also seeks comfort in the known. It’s no wonder I feel I’m walking in circles!

I want to walk in a straight line again! To have a destination, or at the very least, a path to follow that leads somewhere. And I want the sun to come out and shed light on the situation and bring warmth into my soul. I want the absence of heavy, the opposite of dark, the ease of mundane.

What I really want is for my youngest daughter to wake up and realize all the blessings she has in life, to add order and structure and discipline to her life, and to change in such a way that I don’t have to do the difficult work of being a parent. And I want this because it’s been difficult for too long a time and I’m tired of it being difficult.

Okay, so now that those words are on the page, I feel stupid and embarrassed. I love my children and I love being a mom. I really have no reason to complain. My husband and I count our blessings nearly every day and they are many. So perhaps what I’m dealing with this very moment—besides depression, self-pity, and an uncharacteristically weak spirit—is grief.

Now that, my friends, is indeed the ugly truth. I should have recognized its disturbing face in the dark shadows. It is no stranger to me.

I learned long ago that one can never be “cured” of grief. Certainly, you can overcome a tragic loss and after several weeks or months return to a state of feeling satisfied with the blessings in your life. But then some trigger will bring back a memory and sadness will creep into your soul. It could be a favorite song on the radio, or the fragrance of a specific perfume or cologne. It might be a milestone moment in life, such as a graduation, wedding, birth, death. Whatever the trigger, under its disguise grief can slither into your life quietly or stomp about like a wild storm. And the best thing you can do is face it head on, experience it in the moment, acknowledge it and let it have its limelight. Don’t fight it. Trust that it will tire itself out and slink back off into life like a chameleon. It is what it is and if you fight it, it will take fuel from your energy and rend you completely powerless. Let it be. This too shall pass.

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