A little kid sits at a tiny table in a tiny chair and makes big swooping motions with crayons of every color. You can’t tell where one line begins and another one ends. It is a beautiful work of art meant to be nothing other than a wonderful mix of colors and lines from the fun inside the child. It is more than that though. So much more. It is grief in full color. You can’t find the beginning and the end of it all most days. You can’t untangle the colors to make sense of the lines. You can’t focus on one color because too many colors absorb into each other. The child sees beauty and I see what is inside me put onto a canvas.
Grief is so hard to define or label. Grief is not the same lines and colors and designs for everyone. We would all draw a different picture and use different colors. There is nothing wrong with that. We are each a unique work of art. Painted with all her/his own experiences and pains, each of us can’t follow a basic formula for healing. Your healing is as unique as your work of art continually being painted on your soul.
Some of us are grieving the loss of a person no longer here on earth. Some of us are grieving the loss of someone still living but drastically changed. Some of us are grieving the loss of a dream that we had seen for our lives. Some of us are grieving the change we have had to go through without choosing it. Some of us are grieving for the loss our way and who we thought we were. Whatever you are grieving, know that grief doesn’t have to make you a loss too. Getting through grief is not impossible. It is hard but not impossible.
I have been going through grief from losing someone still alive who has drastically changed and the loss of the dream that I had for my family. A double winner in grief. Lucky me huh? Some days I don’t understand the pain at all. I can’t find the beginning or the end of the emotions. I can only find the mess of colors absorbing into each other through the lines criss crossing all over the page. It feels like I as overwhelmed and exhausted from sorting through it all that I can’t breath. I don’t know what I am thinking or why I have so many thoughts that I can’t think at all. Just numbness falls over me and I am outside of my body. As someone going through a very similar journey said to me that it feels like when you are in a plane…floating and cannot feel solid ground underneath you. I am watching my skin sit there and cry. The tears burn my face and fill my throat with confusion and pain. How did I get here or better yet why am I here? II don’t want to be here. I didn’t ask to be here. So how did I get here?
Some days are great. I can see that hypothetical light of hope at the end of the tunnel of pain and confusion. Then other days, I can only see the faintest hint of a light and can only feel the weight of the darkness on every molecule moving on my skin. So this is grief. The ever changing face of emotions and thoughts. These fluctuations of being okay and not okay are exhausting and make me feel like I am standing in the same place and not progressing just when I think that I am. This grief process is so hard. It is hard to comprehend. It is hard to accept. It is hard to process. I hear through struggles you find your strength. I hear through the broken cracks you see the light. I keep repeating mantras everyday. The Serenity Prayer. That which does not kill me only makes me stronger. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. God’s will never passes us by. I am not alone. I can do this. Faith is the belief that God has control over what we cannot and He loves us so much and will never abandon us. The first three steps, I can’t, He can, so I will let Him. Some days I say them and read them but they don’t penetrate my heart and mind like I had hoped that they would. I am so hard on myself at times.
Every color swirling together in that work of art is every emotion swirling in us. I hate the color that dominates my grief lately and it is the color of anger. I don’t like anger. Never have in any way from childhood until today. No one yelled around me as kid. I never learned that skill of dealing with it. My grief is consumed with anger lately. And my body aches from this pain of carrying it. I pray to give it to God but take it back. Grief doesn’t make sense without anger to me right now. How can I be settled or at peace with losing someone I deeply loved to addictions and changes? How can I be settled with the fact that my family who became my world is no longer and is split now? It is like my best friend, my husband has died but they never found his body in the crash so I have no gravesite to visit or closure. My family, whom I never had planned for but filled me with the greatest joys of all time, was dismantled into words and numbers on paper. I never imagined me as a wife. Being a wife, filled me with such happiness and strength that I had never known. Then adding mother to my new role in life, I was overflowing with peace and love. I had everything that I could ever have dreamed of in this lifetime. Now I understand the sadness that takes over when someone you loved dies. The pain of that hole inside that has no bottom. It feels forever unfillable. The winds of the storm around you are whipping through this hole like a window left open in a hurricane. Your roof feels like it lifting off and may fly away at any time. It is overwhelming, sad, frustrating and very scary. I just keep watching the radar to see when the storm will be over so the winds stop causing so much damage.
I have listened to so many who have looked at this painting and had to sort through its colors and lines. They all say the same thing. The storm will subside. The winds will greatly lessen. The pain will heal. But also that the hole will always be there. The loss of someone who mattered to us will always be there as we adjust to the changes of his absence. The loss of our dreams will be there as it changes our path towards a new direction. Feeling all these colors and lines and finding the beauty in each one, I know that it means that I cared and it mattered to me. I am proud that I cared and it mattered. Grief is not pretty and organized. Like the picture drawn by the child, grief is what we see and how we let it not steal our hearts from those who are still here and need us. I am still a mother. I love being a mother beyond any words (I could write for days on this). I am no longer a wife. And that is a grief that I am still working through one day at a time. I will keep adding lines and colors. Some day it will actually work together to create an amazing picture of strength, hope and love in my new book in my series of life.
Breathe out the old. Breathe in the new. Breathe out the sadness. Breathe in the faith. Breathe out the tears. Breathe in the smiles.