In grief the heart makes its own rules. Kay Warren I was talking to a girlfriend the other day about mourning. I looked up the word in the dictionary and was surprised to find 2 out of the 4 definitions involved the wearing of black. Mourning is handled differently by different nations and cultures. In some cultures the wearing of black, to show you were in mourning, would last for up to a year. In other cultures you are not expected to leave your house or commune with others for an entire year. Here in the United States we don't have any protocol or traditions we follow in regards to mourning. I think that has led to much confusion as to what mourning looks like or feels like to the person walking through it. The sad part is when people don't understand something they don't know how to react to it. That can leave the person witnessing it feeling confused and the person walking through it feeling misunderstood.
I am still in deep mourning for my husband. Deep. No, I do not wear black every day to express my sorrow. No, I do not stay home and shun all human interaction. The path I have chosen to walk is the polar opposite of those things. Does that mean I don't miss my husband or am not in pain over my loss? Of course not.
I liken it to if you went on an extended vacation and left your children at home. As time goes on, would you miss them less because you haven't seen them in awhile? Absolutely not. In fact, you would miss them more. I have found that the longing for my husband and the pain of losing him, has gotten far worse with time, not better.
People who are grieving feel like they are in a no-win situation. If you stay in your grief for too long people expect you to "get over it" and "move on". That's not in any way fair to the person walking through a season of mourning. No, it's not supposed to last forever, but it deserves to last for quite awhile if we need it to. There's no rules for grieving.
Then there's the scenario where you seem to be doing well, and people think you are fine, over it and healed. Most people would probably put me in that category, yet I am in no way fine, over it and healed. My life won't ever be the same. Every part of it has changed. How long will it take me to get over it? The answer is I will never get over it. I am a woman marked by deep scares that will forever be on the landscape of my heart. I will always miss him. I will always think about him. I will always long for him. There will always be a pain associated with what I've lost. While others lives have gotten to go on, mine didn't. I had no life to return to. I have had to take steps to figure out what my new normal will be. It is an extremely difficult process, especially when you so desperately loved your old normal.
What I have tried to make the choice to do is use my pain for a purpose. For me that has helped me to find solace. Some of my friends try to call me brave. I just say I'm too darn stubborn to cave, to let my life fall to pieces. I cannot express to you how much this has been a day by day, sometimes minute by minute choice. One that does not come easily.
At the end of the day I believe in everything I write about. I believe deeply in God returning beauty to my ashes. Still, it doesn't in any way numb the pain nor does it mean that I'm "over it" or will ever be over it. I am changed by it. Marked by it. Forever.
That is the messy truth about grief/mourning. There's no guide on how to do it. The only constant is its unpredictability. It is hard to see so many others able to move on with their lives while I'm still trying to pick up the pieces of mine. I'm still not at the point where I have wonderful days. I have wonderful moments that are sandwiched in between a pain so deep it brings me to my knees.
I will move forward, yes, but will never be the same Sarah I once was. I've learned to be ok with that. I have faith, that little by little, The Lord will restore joy and beauty to me. I have started to see it already. As time moves ahead I know I will see it more. One day He will turn this thing called mourning into dancing. Not the way it looked before, but a thing of beauty still.
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