To Live and Mourn Simultaneously

“To Live and Mourn Simultaneously” for the title of this post because I truly believe it adequately describes how life goes on after a loss.

“Sudden and tragic loss leads to terrible darkness. It is an inescapable as nightmares during a high fever. The darkness comes, no matter how hard we try to hold it off. However threatening, we must face it, and we must face it alone.” – Jerry Sitser

The darkness is a topic I’ve written about before and it’s primarily because it’s a place I resided for a long time after Brittany’s death. In fact, it’s a place I’ve resided for a very long time. Throughout my life of what I’ve coined as “unfortunate events” I have found myself to become a familiar resident in the darkness.

When I say darkness, I don’t mean black, I mean like murky water – sometimes unable to see my way through to the light. To find any good in what has happened to me. However, darkness is unavoidable and it is  necessary to face one’s grief. There is no avoiding it – you really have to face it. You cannot put it off nor can you dismiss it away to face another day – it will haunt you and it will keep haunting you until you face it squarely and walk through it. This is what I know to be true.

My walk through the darkness has had some good days and some not so good days. In the early weeks and months after my daughter’s death darkness was a scary place. I wanted to run away from it. I wanted it to go away because I didn’t like what I saw or couldn’t see but only felt. The pain was so gut-wrenching that I felt I couldn’t bear it another moment more. But I did. And I still do today. It’s just different.

When it comes to making a choice on how we grieve, and we do have a choice, we have to look at the big picture. How we look at our journey and how we can exist in the darkness and still see the light. The power remains within us to take the walk in the right direction. To face the pain and the sorrow right where you are in that moment can bring you to a place where light begins to crack through and the life you see before you can and will be joyful. Just different.

I have to say that facing grief in the darkness can be exhausting. I continue to fight this exhaustion to this very day. Why? Because the battle isn’t over. My struggle, anyone’s struggle with loss lasts a lifetime. It’s not over in a year, a couple of years or a decade – it’s never over. The loss changes you. It re-molds who you are right down to your very core. Life looks different, it feels different and some days it just doesn’t feel right. But you keep moving forward because it’s the only way to let the light shine through.

While loss doesn’t define who you are it is your response to it that defines who you will  become. I have written about this numerous times and I stand by it – we have a choice. The choice we make during these moments in life, whether it is personal tragedy or horrific loss – will define our future. It will mold you into who you are to become. Because, as I’ve said before, you are never the same after a loss. No matter how hard your friends and family wish that you are that same person, you are not. You can not.

“I absorbed the loss into my life, like soil receives decaying matter, until it became a part of who I am. Sorrow took up permanent residence in my soul and enlarged it.” – Jerry Sitser

That quote from Sitter really spoke to me as I have lived that and breathed that for the past few years since my daughter’s death. As I sit here today remembering my mom, whom I miss dearly. She has been gone so long now (September 16, 1988), the memories are so old and few, but I cherish them more. My grandmother died 5 years later and then I became bitter because the two great women in my life who had the most influence on the woman I had become were gone. Gone during a time in my life of great change, becoming a mother and career changes. Those losses took the wind out of me for a while. I felt deflated. I felt like so much had been taken from me and I couldn’t understand why. It was hard to watch my friends go through their lives – births of children, etc. and have their moms at their sides. Yes I was so bitter.

But yes, I have grown from my loss(s). I have grown into this new person, one that sees life from a different perspective. While I won’t deny that I have moments of anger about my losses, times when I want to chuck something across the room when I see a scene on TV about a  mom and daughter; overall I have accepted these losses, but not without a price. I live everyday with a sense of loss that no one else will ever understand. So I fill my days finding purpose in what I do. It helps to fill the void.

Of late I have found that I have been distracted from my journey – result has been that I have lost my step. I liken it to walking down a path and falling off the curb. What do you do? You get up, dust yourself off and keep moving. Get back on track. That is what I have to do now. Writing is one of those things. Mentoring other grieving parents. Speaking out about grief and the journey. Being a great nurse. Providing the best care I can in the role I am in now. That is my purpose. And I will fulfill it with every fiber of my being. But there is a price.

In 2006, the worst loss of all happened, but the world didn’t stop revolving when I lost Brittany, although many times I have wanted it to. Life kept moving on and I had to move with it or remain stuck in it. It was a choice I made then and I continue to make now. To live and to mourn simultaneously.

until next time,

m

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It’s been a while….

I have been so busy these past few weeks with work and school that I haven’t had the time to write. And that explains why my heart is heavy. Writing these  past few years has been so healing for me, and now that I’ve been away from it – I can tell it’s been awhile. So I will write – but please know when I do it’s a good thing even while the topic may be heartbreaking and words may sting – it is healing.

Part III – Chapter 9 – God’s Night Light

from Grieving Forward Embracing Life Beyond Loss by Susan Duke

By his light I walked through darkness – Job 29:3

Susan talks about the light of God and how he gives you enough lite to move forward even though it feels you are going backwards in your grief. I felt that often during the early months and first year after Brittany’s death. It seemed so dark at times, I wasn’t sure I would ever see light again. My life seemed empty and my heart heavy – I became so very tired of the dark. Now the dark only comes during October and it lasts until January. I have to reach way down during these months and put myself in the hands of God because I cannot do this alone.

During the dark night of your soul there will be moments when God strikes a match and rekindles your hope. Through your darkened corridors of grief He lights a candle to renew your faith and show you He is there. In the early stages of grief, when your view is clouded with sorrow and you long to take giant steps into His healing light, God is depositing eternal treasures within your heart. – (page 98 – Susan Duke)

The above passage is one of my favorites from the book as she so eloquently describes my path. Although in the early months and years I wasn’t able to see that light, I came to know God was working on me to keep moving one foot in front of the other. To remind me that although my greatest treasure was just taken from me, that I had a purpose. That I was here for a reason. But I still needed a light to find my way.

So now I am entering the what I call the dark times. The time where I am constantly reminded of the gravity of my loss. The lingering effects of my loss and the value of life that I still carry. October 13th will be the 5th year since Brittany’s death. Does this, all this mess, get any easier – maybe – just a little. October is October and I doubt that I’ll ever be glad to see it again. November isn’t much better as the holiday season begins and I see moms and their daughters at the mall doing the things I should be doing with my Brittany and all the pain, the sorrow and the grief flood the gates of my heart again and again. Till I have nothing left.

Her birthday, Christmas and New Year’s – they all bring wonderful memories. But they also bring a longing for her that I will never again know. To hear her laugh and to feel her hug – that is the worst feeling. That kind of emptiness is indescribable. So yeah, this time of year is what I call the dark times and although I try very hard to roll with the holidays, I really just want to crawl up into a ball and sleep until January. But instead I have to crawl up into the lap of Jesus and let him comfort me. It was the best advice someone gave me when I was at the bottom of my despair two years ago.

So if you know me, light a candle on October 13th and say a prayer that God will show me that light. If you know anyone who grieves over the loss of their loved one, especially a child. Light a candle for them and pray that God shows them the light. It is that light that clears the way down the path of grief into the light of hope.

until next time

m

To Live and Mourn Simultaneously

Continuing my journey as I blog through Jerry Sitter’s “a grace disguised”. Chapter Three: Darkness Closes In

I used the phrase “To Live and Mourn Simultaneously” for the title of this post because I truly think Sitter could have labeled this chapter that way. As we go through this chapter you will see why as I believe it became very apparent there is a theme in this chapter that will bring light on this very delicate topic.

“Sudden and tragic loss leads to terrible darkness. It is an inescapable as nightmares during a high fever. The darkness comes, no matter how hard we try to hold it off. However threatening, we must face it, and we must face it alone.”

Sitters speaks of the darkness that came over his life after the tragic loss of his mother, wife and daughter during an automobile accident that left him, and three children to live on with this burden of grief. I have related to this book on so many levels because I believe the author writes and believes what I feel and what I know to be true about grief. It validates if you will my own struggles with how I grieved and where I grieved.

The darkness is a topic I’ve written about before and it’s primarily because it’s a place I resided for a long time after Brittany’s death. In fact, it’s a place I’ve resided for a very long time. Throughout my life of what I’ve coined as “unfortunate events” I have found myself to become a familiar resident in the darkness.

When I say darkness, I don’t mean black, I mean like murky water – sometimes unable to see my way through to the light. To find any good in what has happened to me. However as Sitter reveals – darkness is unavoidable and necessary to face one’s grief. Because you really have to face it. You cannot put it off nor can you dismiss it away to face another day – it will haunt you and it will keep haunting you until you face it squarely and walk through it. This is what I know to be true.

My walk through the darkness has had some good days and some not so good days. In the early weeks and months after my daughter’s death darkness was a scary place. I wanted to run away from it. I wanted it to go away because I didn’t like what I saw or couldn’t see but only felt. The pain was so gut-wrenching that I felt I couldn’t bear it another moment more. But I did. And I still do today. It’s just different.

Sitters believes, as I do, that we have a choice in how we grieve. How we look at our journey and how we can exist in the darkness and still see the light. The power remains within us to take the walk in the right direction. To face the pain and the sorrow right where you are in that moment can bring you to a place where light begins to crack through and the life you see before you can and will be joyful. Just different.

I have to say that facing your grief in the darkness can be exhausting. I continue to fight exhaustion to this very day. Why? Because the battle isn’t over. My struggle, anyone’s struggle with loss lasts a lifetime. It’s not over in a year, a couple of years or a decade. The loss changes you. It re-molds who you are right down to your very core. Life looks different, it feels different and some days it just doesn’t feel right. But you keep moving forward because it’s the only way to let the light shine through.

Sittser says “loss itself does not have to be the defining moment of our lives”. He goes on to say, “the defining moment can be our response to the loss.” I am in total agreement with the author here. I have written about this numerous times and I stand by it – we have a choice. The choice we make during these moments in life, whether it is personal tragedy or horrific loss – will define our future. It will mold you into who you are to become. Because, as I’ve said before, you are never the same after a loss. No matter how hard your friends and family wish that you are that same person, you are not. You can not.

“I absorbed the loss into my life, like soil receives decaying matter, until it became a part of who I am. Sorrow took up permanent residence in my soul and enlarged it.”

That quote from Sitter really spoke to me as I have lived that and breathed that for the past four years. I have grown from my loss(s). I am a new person, one that sees life from a different perspective. The world didn’t stop revolving when I lost Brittany, although many times I wanted it to. Life kept moving on and I had to move with it or remain stuck in it. It was a choice I made then and I continue to make now. To live and to mourn simultaneously.

Until next time,

m