Chapter 11 – Becoming Real from Grieving Forward – Embracing Life Beyond Loss by Susan Duke
As I reread and pondered over this chapter again for the umpteenth time I am reminded that it this chapter that made me rethink my journey and I came to terms with some things that were hurting my heart. Duke provides a map, if you will, to how becoming real with her grief and where it was taking her. She allowed us, as readers, to see it possible that it’s ok to feel what you feel, to think what you think, and sometimes you have to make big changes in order to move forward.
I found some of the scriptures she outlined in this chapter to be some of the most validating for me of my feelings and the hurt that permeated my heart. In the scripture below from Job, it was if the words were written by me as it was how I felt for so long after Brittany’s death. I know it was also how I felt when my mother died while I was seven months pregnant with Brittany.
“I go forward, but He is not there,
And backward, but I cannot perceive Him;
When He works on the left hand, I cannot behold Him;
When He turns to the right hand, I cannot see Him.
But He knows the way that I take.”
– Job 23:8 NKJV
I too felt so often in the early days of my grief that God was nowhere to be found. No matter how I often I cried out to Him, it didn’t feel as though He was present. But in my heart I knew He was listening. He showed up in ways that I inspired me. It was in those ways that I was also forced to re-evaluate my life and those present in it. The people God chose to put into my life after Brittany’s death was one of the first pictures of who God became for me. But it was also looking at where I was going in my life and the content for which lived each day – I had to get real. I had to examine what truly mattered and what didn’t. And in doing so, what didn’t matter needed to go.
Some people made it easy because what happened to me scared them away. It still does today. How do I know? The silence speaks for itself. I will say no more about that. I also took a look at what was inside of my heart. How I felt on the inside was not always what you would see on the outside. I kept it quiet. Because I didn’t want to “bother” anyone with my pain. Sometimes it was because I could see from their body language or the look on their faces that they were uncomfortable with the topic. Little did I know that pushing all that pain down and away – delayed my journey. I got stuck.
I slowly began to say what was true. I stopped saying “I am ok” or “I’m fine” and began to say “today’s a rough day” or “it’s so hard today” and after that change the picture began to unfold in front me who in my life who stay and who would go. Duke experienced it. Job experienced. I’m sure anyone of you who read this blog have experienced it. It brings a lot of clarity to your life. One thing I learned is that you can’t please everyone. You cannot explain every day that you have a bad day and everyone will understand. They won’t. Grief belongs to those who are experiencing it. While I may have lost a daughter, I cannot understand another mother’s grief after losing her daughter, but I can know to be present for them. To not be afraid of connecting with her. It is what we all need. To be connected and not alone.
“Some who grieve chance internalizing their grief deep within rather than facing the disappointing truth that most of their friends and acquaintances don’t really want to be bothered with their sorrow. In these kinds of relationships, a hush keeps grief tucked away so no one will be uncomfortable. What’s the problem with a relationship like that, you might ask? – It’s not real.” (2006 Duke)
Once I read the paragraph above I came to realize I too had experienced this and I wasn’t sure what to do about it. Like Duke I felt people wanted the “ole me” back and I understood that to be impossible. I was forever changed the moment I said “stop CPR” and said goodbye to the only thing that mattered to me. I was never going to be who I was. I was becoming real with what had happened. For me, like Duke, grief has changed every aspect of my relationships and every part of my life.
In closing I would challenge you all to become real and transparent. As you do, you will come to understand what is most important in life. All the fluff will fall away and what remains is at the core of who you are. Treasure that and move forward embracing life and all the while honoring your loved one. That is what I know my daughter would want for me and would expect from me. That is a lesson she taught me and Duke solidified in her book.
until next time,