Sunday, March 20, 2011
Grieving Can Be Messy
Shortly after Bennett's passing, our 3-year-old Ashton replaced his playtime with his brother with playing with his cars in my plants. Though it wouldn't have been MY first choice of "therapy", it has worked. He finds joy in getting his hands dirty and - though it can cause a mess on my carpet and couch - it is worth the clean up for now.
Bennett's passing has been our family's first experience dealing of profound loss. In 2008, my husband lost a brother to cancer and my grandfather passed away, but both situations we could see coming from a distance. In their cases, Death was a friend, releasing them from the prisons of their sick and weakened bodies. Yes, we missed them and Yes, no one will take their place but we acknowledged that our prayers were answered. They were no longer in pain and they felt peace.
Bennett's passing was of a different variety. He was 100% healthy - rarely getting sick - and then was gone. No labored breathing, no lethargicness, no discoloration, no incoherent behavior. And in oh-so-many ways, that was a blessing. We had him 100% for 19 3/4 months. Every. Single. Second. And yet, his death side swiped us in a way I can't even put into words. To say it rocked our world would be the understatement of the century. And yet miraculously, it has not made me question my faith. Not for a minute. But it HAS brought up questions regarding my faith and our family's healing. What more can I do to bring a feeling of Peace in our Home? What changes do I need to make in my life to be worthy of seeing Bennett again? How can I best meet the needs of my children who - in their own ways - are reeling from the loss of their brother? When do I let things slide and when do I follow up with natural consequences when my children are acting out? So many questions, still finding answers.
What I HAVE found is that grieving can be messy. It doesn't follow a timeline and it happens differently with everyone. While my toddler has struggled from the get go and has digressed in many ways, my older girls have been more resilient and open with their grief. And yet, in the last week, there have been changes in one child that I don't know how to handle. I am learning that Grief is not a destination but a road. A long road that we will continue to walk for the rest of our lives. Our family needs to find constructive and healthy ways to deal with these big feelings we are feeling. Feelings that - at times - seem bigger than ourselves. And yet, as we learn how to deal with them appropriately, we can progress down our pathway of healing.
I have also learned that Grief and Mourning are work. Hard work. And can be very exhausting. While wading through its strong current, we have found it important so simplify our lives in any way possible. Taking a few months off from a church responsibility, postponing dance lessons until this summer or fall, canceling harp lessons for a time, picking our social situations carefully and not letting ourselves feel obligated or pressured to do anything. Our focus is Healing. End of sentence.
However, that can be easier said than done. Many people give you a month or so to grieve and then - after a time - expect you to be 100% back. "Are you feeling better now?" some have asked. "Do you feel like you are over it?" Over it? How can I be OVER it? Do you EVER get over people you love? Do you outgrow your need or your love for your children? NO! We are learning how to go forward. How to continue to find Joy, Happiness and Laughter without Bennett. And - at times - that is hard. Really hard. In fact, as time has passed, the reality of our sitution is beginning to sink in. This IS real. This IS our new life. And this ISN'T going away.
And yet, he IS with us. We feel him. No, it's not the same as holding his sweet little body in our arms or seeing him shuffle across the kitchen floor with the broom, trying to sweep it for Mommy. But - for now - it will have to do. And we're holding on to the promise of eternal families to fulfill the rest.
So, for now, we'll laugh, we'll cry, we'll remember, we'll play, we'll talk, we'll walk, we'll cuddle, we'll find the help we need and we'll dream of the day when we'll all be reunited again, knowing that it WILL happen. It will.
And Healing will come with time. Messy or not.