Tough Seasons – The Ebb and Flow of Grief

pexels-photoThis is the tough season. I wasn’t expecting it. Christmas flew by with a flurry of activity. Before I knew it, it was mid-January and my heart was ice. I didn’t have energy. I was just making the survival motions to get to the end of each day.

That’s when the crying started. Finally the heart-ice was melting but it hurt oh-so-much. My wonderful hubby’s shoulder was regularly whetted with my tears. It was as if Mom died yesterday. I thought I was past this point of grief.

This has been my life for the past month. As I approach the one-year of Mom’s death on February 26, I have a roller coaster of emotions. This week last year I was at Mom’s bedside at the Coudersport Hospital ICU in Pennsylvania. She was breathing with the help of a respirator. She couldn’t talk. She couldn’t swallow. I never knew what it meant to not be able to swallow. She was in agony. I wanted more than anything to trade places with her. To take away the suffering she felt. I was helpless.

I’ve always loved my birthday. It sounds pretty selfish but it’s true. I have so many happy memories associated with the day. This year my birthday engenders a different feeling. There’s a gray cloud over next Tuesday. It was the day we made the decision to remove Mom from all artificial life-sustaining support. It was the day we chose to let Mom go. That was a hard day.

This week, the storm clouds of grief have lifted a bit. I have finally arrived at a place where I can write again. I can communicate with others what is going on inside my heart. I can remember the good of my Mother’s life and be incredibly thankful. I can live. I can see that there is good yet to come in this life. I can look at the future with a smile.

These next two weeks are going to be hard. I’ll need the love and support from the Lord, my family, and my friends to get to the other side. However, I know these two weeks will be good. It’s good to remember. To mourn and to grieve. There’s a time for everything. I trust it will be time to laugh, to celebrate, to rejoice soon.

Thanks for reading. Thank you for caring. I am so thankful for the community the Lord has given me for this season.

Four Months: The Linden Tree, A Poem

LeafMy Mom’s name, Linea, means Linden Tree in Scandinavian. Her middle name, Lynn, means lake or a body of water. Her life, as her name, reflects to me the truth of Jeremiah 17:8 from the Bible:

“They [God’s people] are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.”

This is in honor of Mom at four months after her passing.

 

The Linden Tree stands tall and beautiful.
Leaves of bright green shimmer in the sun;
Love Leaves with shape of heart,
Exhibiting what flows through the Tree.

Linden is planted by a flowing stream,
Life-giving hydration soaking into deep roots.

The heat rises – fiery, bleak, strong.
Surrounding trees wither and fade.
Linden Tree remains untouched,
Her leaves robust and beautiful.

The deep Roots, hard-won keep Linden strong.
The deep Roots bring Linden Abundant Life.

 

 

A Letter to Mom – 3 Months

785-BenLizWed-7982It’s hard to believe it has been three months since Mom passed. In many ways I feel grieving her loss has only just begun. Today I wrote her a letter and found it helpful. It’s so cathartic to get the overwhelming emotions I’m experiencing outside of myself.

Dear Momma,

I miss you so much. I wish I could visit you and hear your voice and see your smile. I know you are now finding all of the promises of God that you held onto in life fulfilled. I am so happy for you. I wish we could sit together and I could hear all about how you are and what you’re experiencing.

Thank you Mom for teaching me to love. Thank you for teaching me to laugh and be silly. Thank you for teaching me to pray – to trust God in hard things. These lessons are in full force these days.

You were always so good at loving me, Mom. So very good at loving other people. Thank you for being faithful.

Mom, I miss you more than I can say. I am so happy that we will be reunited one day. But for now – Earth just isn’t the same without you.

Mom, I love thinking about you on my wedding day. You were so beautiful. Your smile just lit up the room. The most beautiful Mother of the Bride. I’m so glad you were there.

Thank you for how you welcomed Ben into our family. You crocheted him a Christmas stocking, just like the rest of the family. He loves it so much. It was perfect – a Beautiful Act of Love.

That phrase describes your whole life, Momma – a Beautiful Act of Love. I wish we could still have you with us on this Earth. Things seem a little colder without you. But I know you are experiencing the fulfillment of all your desires and I would not wish you back for anything.

All my love,

Elizabeth

 

Embracing Grief. Embracing Healing.

cropped black-and-white-waves-close-up-view-circleThe past six months have been filled with loss, crisis, grief, and pain. To say the least, it has been a tough season to walk through.

I’ve experienced numerous losses over these months:

  • Leaving my Job of eight years in the fall – my first job out of college.
  • My Mom passing away at the end of February after a 20-year battle with illness.
  • Receiving the diagnosis of Infertility from my doctor after 4½ years of searching for answers.

The compounding of these losses have at times forced me to my knees in heart-wrenching tears. They’ve caused me to ask the tough questions of and about God. They have brought me to multiple days of deep sadness and lethargy and Netflix watching.

Each Loss involves grieving multiple additional losses: The loss of a Dream. Loss of a Voice. Loss of Community. It’s complicated. Messy.

I haven’t always known how to grieve well. When I was 15 my friend died in a house fire. I never shed a tear. Instead I told myself that I needed to be strong and go on with life for her – a very heroic sentiment – but it messed me up. I never allowed the tragedy and sadness of her death to touch my heart. It has taken me years to begin to learn how to grieve well. I am thankful that during this season God led my heart to choose to Embrace the Grief.

I’ve realized that if I don’t allow the painful emotions to hit my heart, it will be like a bone that never sets correctly. I have to walk through the process – every painful step – in order to come out more whole on the other side. I know I have to take the time to cry, to think, to share.

It has been 11 weeks since Mom passed. I know at some level I’ll be grieving her loss for the rest of my life. Not being able to have children who share our DNA is something that this mother’s heart may never be fully okay with. Tears come at unexpected times.

But I have Hope. I’m at a place now where I can see the benefit of embracing the pain and being brutally honest with God. The hard days are lessening and I’m starting to function again. I’m cleaning my house more often. I’m hanging out with friends. I’m going for walks. I’m not spending multiple days watching Netflix. Feelings of anxiety and fear and deep sadness are less frequent. All good steps forward.

Then I have a few bad days where I’ve never felt deeper sadness in my life. On some of those days all I can do is cry out for God to prove His faithfulness again. It’s hard to see a way forward on those days.

Even as I don’t know how long the Season of Grief will be, the Season of Healing has begun. I have the hope that in the end I will be more whole.

As I walk through this Season of Grief, God is birthing new dreams in my heart. I see the world from a deeper, more mature, perspective. I feel more whole than I did before the Season of Grief began. I know myself and God a little better than I did before. I trust God a little more than I did before. I have more compassion for others who are hurting than I did before. I have faith that God is going to Redeem the loss for myself and for others. I am trusting that He is faithful.

I am Embracing Healing.