Monday, February 23, 2009

Every Cloud has a Silver Lining

"Sometimes when one person is missing the whole word seems depopulated." ~ Lamartine

These past six months have been the hardest time of my short life. Its been near impossible at moments to continue on. C. S. Lewis said it best, "The act of living is different all through. Her absence is like the sky, spread all over everything." There is no escaping the darkness and pain that loss can make you feel. BUT I am ready to begin my search for the silver lining (well not really but living in the dark is not how life was meant to be). Wolfelt says in Understanding Your Grief, "Still, you are blessed. Your life has a purpose and meaning without the presence of the person who died. It will take you some time and feel this through for yourself."

I hope within these blogs you begin to see a shimmer of light, I hope you can begin to see the silver lining. I hope we can look back at the pictures and think about those memories and smile, I hope you can remember the good times we had and laugh (and maybe cry a little every now and then). Thank you all for your love and support through this time of heartache. Thank you for the encouragement. I know this is a slow process and for those of you walking with I hope you too can someday see the silver lining. "Usually there is not one great moment of "arrival," but subtle changes and small advancements. It's helpful to have gratitude for even small steps forward. If you are beginning to taste your food again, be thankful. If you mustered the energy to meet your friend for lunch, be grateful. If you finally for a good night's sleep, rejoice," Wolfelt.

"What wound wound did ever heal but by degrees?" ~ William Shakespeare

"There is no sudden , striking, and emotional transition. Like the warming of a room or the coming of daylight, when you first notice them they have already been going on for some time." ~ C. S. Lewis

"The essence of finding meaning in the future is not to forget my past, as I have been told, but instead to embrace my past. For it is in listening in music of the past that I can sing in the present and dance into the future." ~ Alan Wolfelt

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Long Ride Home (Part 2)

I've had some time to think about you
And watch the sun sink like a stone
I've had some time to think about you
On the long ride home
~Patty Griffin

I've found that time alone can be be both haunting and healing, sometimes it helps and sometimes it hinders. Often it seems that most people are too afraid of what alone time can do, I know I was and still am at moments. I found one of the hardest problems I have had throughout these past couple of months is dealing with and distinguishing past memories. What I mean is this; Memories are a blessing, a gift from God, something that should be cherished BUT the questions, the constant staring in the rear-view mirror, the ability the past has to disable present and distort the future, the what-ifs and whys can drive even the most devoted lives to a halt.

(It truly saddens me to say this...) There are nights like tonight when I'll stay up hours blogging and looking through the highlighted portions of books I have read, hours spent flipping through baby pictures, time spent thinking about 'you really never know how much you'll miss them until they're gone', hours spent saying if I could do it over "I would..." reliving the good times and recalling the bad. Sometimes these moments have just been too much for me to handle, days when I literally couldn't function, for awhile if you did see me out of bed I really wasn't there, and then there were the days I just didn't get out bed at all. So what do I do when life is too much? I try to push the memories to the side (and I am so ashamed for it). Its like I'm not sure what else to do with them, and then the guilt sets in. I feel horrible for it, so I open the flood gates and let everything back in. Its seems to be a reoccurring theme. I can't function, so I pretend like nothing ever happened, I begin to feel bad for living again, the memories overtake me, and once again I can't function.

So I guess 'where I'm at' right now in this stage of my life is I'm still not ready to handle it, life is too much for me sometimes... The view in the mirror keeps me from going anywhere and the road over the horizon is always just out reach (kind of like that picture above). There is the bar in Memphis that promises "Free Burgers Tomorrow." That's how I feel. Everyday I wake up and I tell myself "just get through today tomorrow will be better". But tomorrow never comes. I'm coming to understand more and more just how different life will be but I not sure I'll truly ever grasp that this might be as good as life gets?

"Still, there's no denying that in some sense I 'feel better,' and with comes at once a sort of shame, and a feeling that one is under a sort of obligation to cherish and foment and prolong one's unhappiness." ~ C. S. Lewis

"I may try to protect myself from my sadness by not talking about my loss. I may even secretly hope that the person who died will come back if I don't talk about it. Yet, as difficult as it is, I must feel it to heal it." ~ Alan Wolfelt

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Lesson 3. The Wilderness

"Truly, it is in the darkness that one finds the light,
so when we are in sorrow then the light is nearest to all of us." -Meister Eckhart

"Think of your grief as a wilderness - a vast, mountainous, inhospitable forest. You are in the wilderness now. You are in the midst of unfamiliar and often brutal surroundings. You are cold and tired. Yet you must journey through this wilderness. To find your way out, you must become acquainted with its terrain and learn to follow the sometimes hard-to-find trail that leads to healing... And even when you've become a master journeyer, and you know well the terrain of your grief, you will at times feel like you are backtracking and being ravaged by the forces around you. This too, is the nature of grief. Complete mastery of grief is not possible. Just as we cannot control the winds and the storms and the beasts in nature, we can never have total dominion over our grief."

Lost, disoriented, bewildered. Caught in the thicket of the wilderness, a good day consists of a glimmer of light passing trough the trees to remind me that hope is still out there. Hope for something good to enter back in this dark forest. Its the little things that help me get by; a child laughing, a phone call from Pops seeing how everything is going, a hug from Jenny. Wilderness is such a incredible analogy for early on in the bereavement. As we walk through the wilderness, I hope you can see the glimmer of light, I hope that you aren't afraid to cry out for help, I hope you can find support and love from God and the people that surround you.

"How do you ever find your way out of the wilderness of your grief? You don't have to dwell there forever, do you? The good is no, you don't have to dwell there forever. But just as any significant experience in your life, the wilderness will always live inside you and be a part of who you are... But you may also be coming to understand one of the fundamental truths of grief: Your journey will never truly end. People so not "get over" grief... we are all forever changed by the experience of grief."

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Long Ride Home (Part 1)

It's amazing what 5 hours in the car alone can do to someone. How your thoughts can wander around the world and back while you are stuck behind the wheel of that car. Thinking, I found, has been one of hardest parts of the healing process. The memories are precious, I wouldn't trade the thoughts of the time my sister graced this earth for the world. But I feel torn. If I want to move forward it will have to be without her, therefore I refuse to leave but life can stop here and now. Amber wouldn't want it that way. I know she would blow me a kiss and bid me farewell. She would want to continue on. (I know I will always have the memories. I know that part of her will always be with me. But it’s not enough.)

As I was driving I kept thinking of thinking. Has it helped my healing? Has it hindered? What does it mean to heal? Is there even such a thing? But as I was thinking I recalled a C. S. Lewis quote:

Getting over it so soon? But the words are ambiguous. To say the patient is getting over it after an operation for appendicitis is one thing; after he's had his leg off it is quite another. After that operation either the wounded stump heals or the man dies. If it heals, the fierce, continuous pain will stop. Presently he'll get back his strength and be able to stump about on his wooden leg. He has 'got over it.' But he will probably have recurrent pains in the stump all his life, and perhaps pretty bad ones; and he will always be a one-legged man. There will be hardly any moment when he forgets it. Bathing, dressing, sitting down and getting up again, even lying in bed, will all be different. His whole way life will be changed. All sorts of pleasures and activities that he once took for granted will have to be simply written off. Duties too. At present I am learning to get about on crutches. Perhaps I shall presently be given a wooden leg. But I shall never be a biped again.

C.S. Lewis

Life will truly never be the same. Like the amputee there will never be day that I wake up and forget that my leg is no longer there. Those memories will always serve as reminders that she is no longer with us.

I try to find positivity in everyday and every situation that I am blessed with but that’s easier said then done. I would love to greet every morning with a smile, I would like to end everyday with a prayer of thanks, but I will always have that stump to remind me. (I understand that the wound is still fresh and I’m still angry.) The pain is all too familiar. But I hope, I pray that I can learn to appreciate life as a one-legged man; that I can be truly thankful for the beauty that still surrounds me, the loved ones that still call and ask ‘how I’m doing,’ a wife that still laughs at my jokes and appreciates my immaturity.

Be kind to those who are hurting. Be patient with the people you love. Look to God when times get hard. Each day is a little better than the last. Some days bless me with laughter, some with tears. But each day is a blessing. Thank you everyone for your love and support.