The minute I realized I was grieving an immeasurable loss, I began to read everything I could find on grief and grieving. It was almost an obsession to find the directions for navigating this emotion. I remember my daughter commenting “There should be a book of instructions for this. It should tell you what to expect as the days pass, how you’ll feel, what you’ll be able to do or not do, where you will be able to go and when the pain will start to lessen.” Will you be able to pick up life as you knew it before the loss or will life never be the same. Clearly, I know the answer to that now, but I didn’t know then.
I read about grief and healing and began to recognize myself in each and every chapter. Some mention types of grief, some stages of grief and some even have stories from grievers. The one thing they all have in common is this…Grief is something you can’t control. You can try and you can fight it and at times you think you have it under control…just to be brought to your knees in an instant, crying the tears you thought you no longer had. The predictable thing about grief is “It is unpredictable”.
A common theme in the many books, blogs, websites, podcasts etc. is an analogy to the weather. I have come to believe there is no better comparison than this.
Life begins usually in a very positive way. Birth, itself, is a miracle. I know this because I have witnessed thousands of births in 40+ years of nursing. It is most often happy and joyous, much like a beautiful sunny day . With the sun comes warmth and a feeling of hope. This usually means getting outside if you can, enjoying nature, playing with the children, all of the things that bring joy. People are smiling, families are together, neighbors talk over fences to catch up. The sound of laughter resonates from every direction. Can you see this scene in your mind? I sure can.
This is when life is going along, things are calm, somewhat normal even, then, boom life events happen and the sun disappears behind the clouds, the winds start to blow and everything you were feeling is gone, in an instant, gone. It is replaced with cold, damp rain and a feeling of uncertainty. Normal tasks become more difficult, smiles are replaced with sadness. You feel pinned in, you find it difficult to see the opening in the clouds. Isn’t this much like the way we feel in grief. It’s as if someone took our sunshine away and honestly, they did.
Eventually the fog lifts and the sun ever so gently appears again, bringing with it all the good feelings and sunny days, however, there are times that cold, damp rain is more like a tornado or a hurricane. It slips in unnoticed and wreaks havoc on our life. It rips off roofs and destroys foundations. It is like an angry mob destroying everything in its path, with no thought as to the aftermath. How will we pick up the pieces, how will we go on. How extensive is the loss? Sometimes it’s small and sometimes it’s insurmountable. Where is the book with the directions? Where do we go from here?
Doesn’t this remind you of the grief journey? Sometimes it is slow and steady and gradually you lose bits and pieces of your life. Other times, it is that tornado, ripping apart your life from the foundation up. Over the last eleven years, I’ve heard many ask if it was easier on loved ones if they knew death was coming and they had more time to say the things they needed to say or was it easier when it was sudden with no warning at all. The answer to that is this…It is all hard and whatever is happening to you is the hardest of all.
Life has its ups and downs. Life has its dreary days, but the thing about the weather is this…the clouds lift, the rain stops, the winds cease to blow and the sun returns sometimes bringing with it a rainbow. You see, we have to weather those dreary days in order to see the sun again. We have to feel the cold damp rain in order to appreciate the feeling of the warmth on our face. The storms will always come, but so will the sun.
Enjoy your sunny days, whether they be long or short, enjoy them like you never have before. Make memories. Feel the warmth and listen to the sounds of Spring. Cherish the moment so that when the storms return you will be ready, umbrella handy and the memories you stored of those sunny days will sustain you once again and keep your eyes peeled because you may even see a rainbow.