Days before Thanksgiving, I am noticing many people are writing or sharing posts and articles about ways to find hope and healing in the holidays.Honestly, the holidays are still one of the most difficult moments in my grief.
Our daughters, Caitlin and Brielle, come home – though often not at the same time. They are both married so we’ve also added two special son-in-laws. But when we are all together we are more aware than ever that Leisha is not among us.
After some earlier losses in life, I could still “manufacture” some of sparkle and gratitude of the holidays. I could still muster it mostly because I’m a positive person and I don’t have to work too hard to at least ‘appear’ happy.
But after Leisha died, it was not possible to even pretend to make that happen.
I’m sure I’ve shared this before, but for me grief was a feeling of being in a really dark tunnel where the mud was up past the top of my head and I couldn’t move a finger let alone breathe.
The harder I tried to get out the deeper I got Into the mire, into the mud, into the darkness.
Maybe you are reading this because you are desperate- I just described how you feel right now. Loss has paralyzed you. You are stuck in this dark, damp tunnel of mud with fist raised.
Is that you?
Or maybe you don’t feel so desperate anymore. But there is still this ache that won’t go away and you wonder if it ever will.
While you want more than anything “Keep living until you feel alive again”, you also struggle to move past that last connection you had with your loved one.
Which ends up being their death.
Does that sound familiar to you?
Or maybe you are walking with someone you care about. You experienced the same loss, but you don’t feel the loss with the same intensity as your mother does or as much as your spouse or friend does. You know what they are experiencing is very real, but you don’t know what to do – or say. You don’t know how to help.
Who are you walking with?
But whoever you are look around. You are not alone.
You are not alone In the experience of loss- which sometimes is a comfort of its own. Grief is a lonely journey in many ways, but misery loves company.
But you are also not alone in the journey through grief.
A book that I highly recommend is called “A Grace Disguised’. The author, Jerry Sittser lost his wife, his mother and his 4 year old daughter in a tragic accident with a drunk driver. He writes.
“The experience of loss does not have to be the defining moment in our lives. Instead the defining moment can be our response to the loss. It is not what happens to us that matters so much as what happens in us.”
Jerry says “It’s not our loss that defines us”,
though many of us feel very defined by the day
our Husband died,
our daughter died
we lost the job
Or we got that diagnosis
Those are losses indeed- yet they are things we have no control over.
(sigh!) Yes, I heard that deep breath. You probably didn’t even catch yourself doing it. If only we could have controlled the situation- our loved one would never have died, our boss would have understood, our doctor would have better answers.
Try as hard as we can- much of life we have little or no control over.
But if the defining moment can be how we respond to those moments– how we behave when something out of our control happens to us; well, that we can do something about.
So what do you think about that?
Can you choose how to respond when you experience a loss?
When you think about your losses in your life, what was your response?
I’m not saying responding in a healthy was is easy. In fact, I’m here to say it sure wasn’t for me.
But how about we take a moment in preparation for these holidays and stop to notice our options –
not just in our response to our loss
but as move through our grief.
And also through our holidays.
In the next post, I’ll share with you an exercise I learned to help me in my response in my loss. Actually, it has a lot to do with the RED SEA again.
See you tomorrow.
Update: you can find the next post here.