When Grief Comes Knocking
It was two days ago I was driving to an early morning 12-step meeting and a wave of awareness flooded my consciousness. It came out of nowhere. Like the many times prior to this one, I didn’t see it coming. I hardly ever do. It was something of a warning. Not the actual storm that is on the way but more like the alarms sounding off to let me know it’s time to prepare.
Tears betrayed my eyes, there was a lump in my throat, and anxiety fluttered in the pit of my stomach. I’ve gotten pretty good at holding my tears back-- literally making them retract back into my eyes. It’s an art, of sorts. Sometimes I’ll do it because I don’t want to make someone uncomfortable. Sometimes I’ll do it because crying in a yoga class seems a little dramatic and I hate attention. But more often than not I do it because I don’t want to go there. I don't want to open the door and let her in. It’s as if I’ve looked through the peep hole to see who’s there and there she is, Grief. She doesn’t go away but I can try to avoid opening the door and letting her in for a short time.
Sometimes I let her right in. I welcome her. I hug her and she provides me a sense of comfort and peace. And it feels good to see my old friend. Sometimes though, I look through the peep hole and she’s the last person I want to see. I quietly walk away, hoping she didn’t see me to give me a little time to straighten up before I let her in--running around like a mad woman trying to get everything in place before I open the door. You know what I mean. If you haven’t been there with grief, you’ve most certainly been there with an unexpected house guest. Same thing. And sometimes I’ve been known to throw my body against the door and try to keep her out. I will tell you this about that: Grief is one strong force. She always makes her way in…even it’s through a window or back door. You put all your energy in keeping her out and she pops up somewhere else. That’s grief for ya.
Grief lives within in. I know this. That peep hole is directly attached to my heart. And when I open the door, it consumes my being. I can feel it rising within me until it reaches the outer layer of my skin. It’s vulnerability in its rawest form. It leaves you feeling exposed. And that leaves me feeling scared and anxious.
I don’t want to face another holiday season without my brother. I don’t. That’s what this latest warning is about. The warning came in the form of Faith Hill’s “Where are You Christmas” song on the XM Holly channel.
It’s taken me a while to see the warning signs. It’s been a process over the past 4 ½ years to come to recognize grief and there is definite comfort in that. The awareness allows me to take care of myself. It allows me to set boundaries and be open and honest with the people I love. It allows me to give grace more freely because it’s a time I need grace the most.
Grief is one of my greatest teachers but to be honest, I was never a fan of school. I was never a fan of doing the work to get the grades. Grief is a lot of work. It takes acceptance to learn from grief. It takes acceptance to receive love and growth from grief. It takes acceptance to receive all the benefits that grief has to offer but acceptance isn’t something that flows freely within me. It’s something I ask for. It’s something I work for. It’s something I wait patiently for. It’s something that can come and go. It’s something I must always seek. But it’s a promise that I will always find it when I’m leaning on God.
So, yeah, I’m in a place of waiting on grief. She’s let me know she’s on her way and not much I can do to stop her. Truth be told, I don’t want to stop her I just want to embrace her and accept her. I’ll use this warning to prepare. And what does that look like? A lot of prayers. A lot of asking God to make His presence known when she arrives. (I can be blind to that sometimes). So, if you find yourself in a similar situation, I am sorry. But give yourself grace. Give others grace. And don’t be afraid to ask for grace. Not everyone going through difficulties writes a blog about it and shares it with the world. Holidays are tough for a lot of reasons for a lot of people. Some people might not even be aware when grief shows up and I can tell you from previous experience that that can look messy and angry. My prayers are with you for nothing but peace and light as we prepare to enter this season. As we prepare to set a seat for Grief at our holiday tables. Everything is a little easier with warning and time to get ready for it. Grief is no exception.
* Disclaimer: Grief is a process and it is different for everyone. Grief is personal and I am simply sharing my experience with it.