Something I’ve learned about grief is it changes who you are. By that I mean it gives you a different perspective on what’s important in life. Once you have been “schooled” in the classroom of grief – you have two choices – be a good student and learn and grow and move through the journey. Or you become stagnant and lifeless. No one says it’s easy. I know I have come across those who have thought I should have been “over” it – or farther along than I was but if you haven’t been in the mess of it all – you just don’t know and you just shouldn’t talk about what you don’t know. That’s my opinion and since it’s my blog – I can write.
Now moving on. What I found most helpful in Susan Duke’s “Grieving Forward: Embracing Life Beyond Loss” is Chapter 13 – Grief’s Classroom. As I reread this chapter I found many passages I had highlighted and as I evaluated their importance today – still very valid and still very real.
I recall once when I was attending a Grief Share class at my local church, probably about 3 months after Brittany died, and as I sat there listening to everyone’s story – an overwhelming thought came to me: Dear God don’t let this happen to me. Some of these attendees had been on the journey for years and remained stuck in a place and couldn’t find their way out. I believe it was at that moment that I realized I had to take control over my journey but led by my deepest faith in God and giving him the control instead of letting it control me. I also knew that my journey would help others.
One of the things that is crucial is seeing progress. But if you don’t measure it, you won’t be able to see it. I think that is why people often get stuck, because they cannot see how far they have come. Writing has been my way of tracking my progress. When I look at the posts on this blog and in my own private diaries – I see profound change and progress. I see a lot of pain and sorrow too. It’s all there, I’ve held nothing back. I’ve been as real as I can be and sometimes I’ve been too real and it has scared my readers. But know this: I’m a child of God and while I have moments of weakness and sometimes want to give up – I know that God takes control then and puts me back on track.
I have fought many battles with the devil over the death of my daughter. Guilt, shame, anger, mistrust, and sorrow so deep I couldn’t see my way out. When you are so wounded it’s hard to fight the devil. His little games he plays with your mind – it can be devastating to your progress if you don’t ask God to take control. Prayer warriors have saved me so many times I cannot count. Below is an excerpt from Dukes book that I think is critical to overcoming this weariness:
“Warriors cannot fight when they are wounded. The kind of battle that rages in a grief-filled heart is one of hopelessness. When we don’t care if we survive, it’s hard not to give up on everything, even God. It’s hard to lay down the heaviness of grief long enough to put on our spiritual armor, but it is the armor that equips us for the rest of our journey.”
I remember as I read that passage the first time, I went and wrote down scriptures like Romans 8:37: I am more than a conqueror through Christ who loves me” and I put them up on my bathroom mirror so I could see them everyday. I put messages in my pockets. In my books. On my laptop – anywhere I would see them to remind me I was NOT fighting this battle alone. I won’t deny that there weren’t times I couldn’t pick up my bible and read. My heart was so heavy I couldn’t bear it nor did I care. I was so wounded I had no desire to move on. I just wanted my baby back. But through friends, scripture and the shear determination of my God he got through. The light began to shine again in my life and it is only by the Grace of God and his constant viligence over my life that I am where I am today.
The following comment from Duke really helped me see I wasn’t alone, nor was I crazy like some people made me feel: “it takes at least eighteen months before anyone who grieves begins to experience longer stretches of time with less pain” – that was from H. Norman Wright’s book Experiencing Grief. It is during that eighteen months that you have to be mindful of every choice you make. To be careful with your heart, your life and the decisions you make on how you deal with your grief. This can be a time when one could become addicted to drugs, alcohol or behaviors that are not conducive to healing. Lean on God!!!!
My journals and my blog have allowed me to reflect upon my journey and most importantly it allows me to see my progress. Grief changes who you are and you become someone different. As Duke says – “we have to own our grief” “There is no formula, no set of instructions, no twelve-step program that works for every individual. Grief can shake, change, convince, challenge and contradict every preconceived notion or idea anyone has ever said or written about grief.”
Grief teaches us that there is pain in loving. Now that I know that, my challenge today is to begin to let love into my life again. To trust that God wouldn’t send me someone to love if it wasn’t someone good and who will take my heart and keep it like a delicate flower. No one could ever take the place of my dear sweet Brittany – but so much more happened to me on this journey than just losing my daughter – I lost myself. I lost my desire to love or to let love in. Now it is time for love.
until next time,