Today marks one year since we said goodbye to my amazing mother. One Year! Without hesitation, I say it feels closer to 12 weeks than 12 months since the day that changed everything. It is funny how much time slows down when you are processing the unimaginable. But process I did, every day little by little. I discovered that grief is more like an ocean than a ladder. Let me explain.
My Grief is Not Linear
There is a lot of discussion on the stages of grief. As if grief and loss is a linear process. The goal is to process the feelings associated with each stage and land at the end of the journey, a place of healing. My discovery over the last 12 months is that my grief is not linear. It is not a ladder to climb from the darkness into the light. If only it could be that simple! I would prefer a straight path, a place to start and a place to finish. Unfortunately, my emotions are more complicated than a single path.
Moving Off the Ladder and Into the Ocean
My emotions and I are sailing in a boat on the ocean of grief. Some days the ocean is smooth, clear, calm. The sun is shining in a blue sky and life feels almost normal. On other days, the sky is black, the sea is choppy, as the winds whips the boat from side to side. Most days, the journey is somewhere in the middle. The sky is blue, but the wind keeps the boat moving up and down. Emotions are complicated like that; you can feel both joy and sorrow almost simultaneously. The important thing is to stay in the boat and ride the waves as they come.
The Boat Sermon
In Matthew 14:22-33, Jesus walks on water and calms the seas. He tells the apostles not to fear because He is near. In this story we also see Peter attempt to walk on the water to Jesus, but he succumbs to fear and begins to sink. When Peter calls out to Jesus, He catches him.
My boat on this ocean of grief is my faith. As the waves and wind toss me from side to side, Jesus is walking along side of me calming the seas. When I begin to sink from the heaviness of sorrow, He reaches out his hand to catch me. On immensely hard days, Jesus climbs in the boat and sits at my side as the storm rages around us. No matter the darkness, I am not alone.
God is Bigger
Grief and loss taught me that God is bigger than my sadness. God is also bigger than my anger, my loneliness, and my emptiness. He does not need me to explain or change, God allows me to just be. Losing such an integral part of my life leaves me in a state of simply being on many days. I do not have words for the ups and downs. There are no explanations or reasons for my emotions. Sometimes I have little energy to give away to the precious people in my life. Through it all, God gives me strength. The last 12 months taught me you do not have to feel strong to be strong.
On Being Strong
Strong looks many ways. It is getting out of bed and doing the normal things when you simply want to curl up in a ball alone. Strong is finding ways to be present in the new normal of things. It is the way we live every day to honor the memory of the one who no longer walks beside us. My mom taught me how to be strong. She taught me to care for people and that every problem has a solution, you simply need to take the time to find it. Mom always said we are stronger together, so being strong is also asking for help and leaning on all the people who love you. I’ve done a lot of leaning these past 12 months and I am grateful for all the people who worked to hold me up.
Not Yet Healed
I have a long time to go before my boat sails into a safe harbor, a new normal, a place of healing. Healing is a process, and I am happy with the progress I made so far. I miss my mom every day. Sometimes I still grab my phone wanting to text her pictures of my new rug or the state of my garden. With the madness of the pandemic, I miss her wise words and the way they calmed the turmoil in my mind. She taught me what is important, and I hold the lessons close to my heart. I let her lessons lead me, but I miss the sound of her laugh and the joy of her smile. Missing my mom means that I loved her. As I remind my children, we are sad because we loved Grandma so much and we are LUCKY to have had such a magnificent love in our life.
Love is Forever
Love is forever. Grief is temporary. I would rather grieve the loss of amazing love, than live a life without it. No words can express the love I had for my mom or the love I felt from her in return. The woman would move heaven and earth for the people in her life and I witnessed this love over and over. Everything feels a little bit heavy today, a little too permanent, a little too lonely. Today I will ride the waves of sorrow and wait for the sea to calm. I will sit with God and remember I am eternally loved. Tomorrow I will wake and see where the ocean leads me next.