Thursday, January 29, 2015

Living with grief: three and a half years

It's the 29th and exactly three and one half years since losing our 16yo. son in a car accident. I wonder if I will ever stop counting months and years. My heart continues to ache, though most days the ache is barely noticeable. But days like this? The ache wells up, pulses strong. I force my thoughts to think truth, take them captive to Christ. Today, I think I will throw eggs.

The past week has been a tug of war between thankfulness and grief. I never thought I'd be "that" parent, the one who causes awkward moments in conversation because of an answer to the innocent question, "How many children do you have?" For the most part, however, I've learned to gloss over the introductions, doing my best to alleviate and avoid their uncomfortableness. I say it fast, moving quickly so they don't have a chance to "poor me" me. I forget sometimes how shocking it is for others who don't know our story, and I feel compelled to "smooth" the rough spot. I never thought I'd be explaining how old my oldest child would be.

The struggle with grief continues, though it's course has changed dramatically since it began. The wild roller coaster ride with its steep plummets and sharp turns has evened out. As my grief mom friend Jackie says, "The highs aren't as high, and the lows aren't as low." For that, I am thankful. My biggest struggle lately, surprisingly, has not been bitterness, but jealousy. Yes. Jealousy. I wasn't really aware it was jealousy I was feeling until I read fellow Christian blogger, Kara Tippetts' post. (I'm sorry, I don't have a link to her complete post. I believe her blog address moved, changing some post links.) Kara wrote that she has been asked many times if she struggles with feeling angry about having terminal cancer, and her "answer is typically the same- Jason and I have fought to be broken instead of bitter and angry. ... No one has ever asked me if I'm jealous." (from Kara's FB post)

With each milestone that Matt's friends experience in their lives, I fight against jealousy. While I am truly, sincerely happy for them, I grieve because Matt's not here, because we don't get to experience these milestones with our son. For every wedding I've attended since losing Matt, I've had to brace myself or look away when I see the groom and his mother. I have to intentionally squelch any thoughts or imaginings of "I wonder" or "What if." For every graduation, for every date or girlfriend, for every moment a mom friend talks about her teenage son, jealousy raises it's ugly head. I never thought it would be this hard.

Yet, for every hard, there is grace. Abundant grace. All-sufficient grace. There is the hope of something that "far outweighs" every pain of this world. (2 Cor. 4:17) There is an anticipation for a day when there will never again be sorrow, sin, or jealousy. I know that when jealousy raises it's head, I need only to do one thing: Put my head upon His shoulders, the only One who understands and knows all. I lean hard on Him and find the grace I so desperately need.

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