Friday, July 19, 2013

The paradox of grief

I made reference to Tanya Chernov's book, "A Real Emotional Girl" in my last post. One of the lines she wrote really struck home with me. She was talking about how, after a loss, people will tell you that "it" (the grief, the pain) will get better. Only she discovered that it never really got better. It only got more familiar. When I read that, I nodded in agreement. To an extent, that's completely true. Living with grief gets awfully familiar. The physical pain, yes, subsides and lessens over time. But while it's not as physically painful, the sorrow remains just as deep.

As we drove away from the farm leaving the 4th of July weekend behind, I spent time reflecting. As I sat thinking, I had an unexpectedly profound moment. The thoughts that hit me were: "I have grieved all I can grieve. Every fiber of my being, every cell in my body, every molecule in me, has wept. I have held nothing back in my sorrow." I think there was then a turning point. A point where I "officially" stopped mourning. It wasn't a conscious decision to stop. It was, I feel, a moment when GOD, through the Holy Spirit, told me that it was done. My time of mourning was over.

Now that, most emphatically, does not mean that I don't (and will not) still grieve or won't still experience days and moments of grief. But the outward display of my sorrow is over. It doesn't mean I won't cry when I feel like it or no longer express my grief, but I have, in a sense, ceased rending my clothes and have gotten up from sitting in the ashes. It doesn't mean I no longer grieve, but that I am now standing and going forward.

Maybe that sounds strange to many, especially those who have seen me "functioning" for more than a year now. But functioning does not reveal an accurate picture of the heart. Anyone can go through the motions of existing. The outward wound can heal and even the scar can look pretty good, but only God sees the heart, the place where the real damage took place. Only He sees the healing, too, that's happened on the inside. The outside is but a poor reflection.

I guess I'm rather surprised, too, because I thought that "turning a corner" was going to look a little different, a little better than this. I mean, I knew that I wasn't going to get my son back, but I guess I thought healing was going to be "prettier." I was hoping the scar, the amputation, wasn't going to be as obvious. I had a misconception of what healing looked like. I've had to come to terms with reality. Embracing a life without my oldest child was something I fought fiercely. Figuring out what moving forward looks like while not negating my son or his life is the paradox of grief.

I believe I've finally come to accept that Matt is gone and he now lives, and is alive, in Heaven. I've concluded that I don't have to get over my son, but I do have to get over grief. I have to think of my son and not the loss of my son. I have to view the death of my child as one of the many chapters in the book of my life. It is a chapter that I wanted so desperately to leave out. But I didn't write this book. God did. He is the author. I am merely the words on the page. Because of that realization, I've decided I want those words to be light and hope. Light and hope for my family and for others who are walking this journey. I want to be able to say, "I am an overcomer."


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