Good Grief

It isn’t often that I feel the urge to write. It happens very rarely, and I love to do it when I feel compelled, but it always has to be triggered by something. My high school English teacher always tells me I should write a book, and I laugh because 1) it would take me years, and 2) I’m not nearly interesting enough for that. 😉 I can’t tell you how many blog posts, notes in my phone, and pieces of paper with random thoughts there are floating around. Most of the time nothing comes of them, and they consist of things that people never see. But I just start writing- or typing, in this case- to see if just maybe something comes of it.

I ramble. A lot. My thoughts come out before I can get them down, and by then I’m thinking of something else to say. See, my book would suck. 😉 But my thoughts always seem to circle back to the same thing lately… Mom.

Grief is such a strange thing. My grandma always describes it as a roller coaster, and that is so accurate. I can go from perfectly fine to sobbing uncontrollably in a second. If I’m being honest, I have more good days than bad days. And something that I’ve discovered over the past several months since my mom’s death is that most people don’t like that. I’ve heard so many people say “oh, everyone grieves differently,” or “there’s no wrong way to grieve.” But I can see it in people’s faces, and can hear it in their voices, knowing that they think the way that I grieve isn’t ok.

At my mom’s wake I didn’t cry. I guess it was partially because of how much I’d cried the week she was in the hospital, and just feeling like there was nothing left, but mostly it had to do with Jesus and the peace that He gave. Several people told me that I had to be sure to “let myself grieve,” and that struck a chord so deeply with me.

For months after she passed I kept thinking that I was “too okay” and that my grief wasn’t the right kind of grief. I’ll see people that I haven’t seen since she died, and I’m not sure what they expect me to look like, but some people look genuinely shocked when they see me. Most of the time it makes me laugh because I’m like “dang, I look *that* good, huh?” 😛 I don’t know how people that have lost their moms are supposed to look, but apparently not like me, haha.

I sit and drink coffee every morning. If I have to be somewhere at 7 am, I will wake up at 5 just so I can have a good 20-30 minutes to drink my coffee. Most of the time my “quiet time” ends with me scrolling through Facebook or Instagram (I hate to even admit that!) and this morning was no different. I came across an Instagram page this morning of a lady that documented the lives of her older parents’ and how she cared for them. I felt my throat tighten and my eyes water as I thought of how I’ll never get to do that. I do that a lot. I feel sorry for myself, and think of all the things I’ll miss out on, losing my mom so early in life.

But I think God gave me the gift of realism. (Is that even a thing?) I don’t mean in a pessimistic way, but in a real kind of way. (Jeez, how smart do I sound.) I have this involuntary ability to stabilize my emotions based on certain situations. I don’t think it’s a defense, really, I think it’s just another example of God’s grace.

I was a basket-case before we knew how critical my mom’s situation was. From Monday-Friday every time I left the hospital I was beside myself, feeling like I could have a nervous breakdown at any moment. Saturday morning we finally got answers. Granted, they weren’t answers that we wanted, but they were answers, nonetheless. The doctor told us that there was nothing they could do, and that without a divine intervention she only had a few days to live. This is gonna sound strange to some, and once again I’m sure not everyone will like it, but I was ok. Well, I guess I shouldn’t say I was ok, but that the Holy Spirit interceded and enabled me to think clearly and just be ok.

I don’t know why I’m writing all of this, but I am. Maybe it’s for me- just a therapy session- or maybe for something else. Whatever the reason, I feel the need to say that grief is such a roller coaster.

I will be the first to say that I like social media. Most days, anyway. I think it’s a great way to keep in touch with people, and to procrastinate when you don’t feel like working. But I also think that it makes people feel like they know every single thing there is to know about you, and to judge you extra closely. That’s partially because we put everything there is to know about us out there for everyone to see.

I love to talk about my mom, and to post on Facebook about her. I try to keep it mostly positive, mainly because there’s enough negative floating around out there. But what I don’t say is that 99% of my time is spent thinking about her. I get a lump in my throat at the sight of her, and have tears in my eyes at this very moment, just at the thought of her. I don’t post a status about it on Facebook every time I think about her, or break down when someone asks how I am. But that doesn’t mean that her death is easy, and that my world revolves just the same as it did before she died.

I’m not writing this defensively. And I’m not saying it because it’s something that bothers me. Of course it does to an extent, but it bothers me more that there are people that take others’ words to heart, and that probably feel inadequate because they grieve a little differently.

I guess my point of this is to be sensitive to the people that grieve a little differently than what seems “normal.” And I don’t just mean towards those that seem to be ok. If part of your grief consists of moving to a deserted  island with your pet camel and an endless supply of frozen pizzas, then I think you are grieving exactly how you should be grieving.

I think the only “necessity” in grieving is that you not lose sight of what’s eternal.

God is good. I don’t care if every single thing you’ve ever known has been taken from you, and you feel like there’s literally nothing left… He. is. good.

Because you want to know something? It wasn’t yours to begin with. Maybe that’s harsh, but it should also be comforting. Why? Because everything on this side of heaven is brief. temporary. fleeting. momentary.

It’s meaningful, and it’s preparing you for something, but it is nothing in comparison to eternity and all of the glory that it entails.

That is why I’m ok. And you know what? It’s ok to not be ok, but it’s also ok to be ok.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. -James 1:2-4
My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. -Psalm 73:26
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. -Matthew 5:4


6 comments so far...

  1. Emilee

    Thank you for sharing, Rachel.
    Your grief doesn’t look like anyone else’s. It’s completely unique to yourself. More than a choice, I suppose it’s dictated by a number of factors, including how your natural response to grief is, as well as your personal outlook on eternity and what matters more in this lifetime and at this point in your life. You should never hold yourself to another person’s expectations, nor should you ever look at yourself like you’re not doing it right.

    December 14, 2016 at 4:19 pm   |   Reply
  2. Glynn Jones

    Your understanding of what happens after death for a person that is saved & simply understanding that death is a new beginning allows you the peace you feel. Your understanding is a gift from God that not everyone has. Many people will see pure joy when they see you, the same joy they experienced in the presence of your mom. Don’t forget about us.

    December 14, 2016 at 9:41 pm   |   Reply
  3. Christine Lyles

    Rachel, you are so smart and so eloquent. I see an awful lot of what I went through when my mom died in your comments. I didn’t cry at the wake or funeral (I had spent the previous 3 months with her in the hospital EVERY day) but when they asked us if we would like to view the body before they closed the casket — I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t say that last good-bye. After that, I cried every morning driving to school for weeks. But my students helped me through it and slowly but surely, it got better as I realized she was where she wanted to be — with my dad. There is always a silver lining. Love you dearly. Christine Lyles

    December 14, 2016 at 9:48 pm   |   Reply
  4. Wendy Israel

    I enjoyed reading this so much! I love you and think of you often…I also didn’t cry at my Mom’s wake( I, at the time was cried all out) …you keep being you, loving and believing in God. You are you and that is Normal! Hugs and kisses.

    December 15, 2016 at 2:00 am   |   Reply
  5. Kathy Carter

    Grief cannot be pushed to the back burner, because other people don’t understand your way of feeling things. God has given us emotions and everyone reacts differently . Go ahead and grieve your way and don’t worry about what others think. There is ultimately only one we have to answer to. As long as we honor our Heavenly Father we have gone down the right road. I lost my husband almost four years ago, and still have days I will break down. Those are the days I sit and talk to him. I lay all my feelings on the line and just talking to him helps me solve my problems. I know the tears I shed are for myself. We are a selfish people and like to have things our way. But I have had time to reason things out for myself, which you will in your own way. I would not wish him back with all the suffering he did and neither would you of your Mom. I pray for God to shed His mantle of strength and peace on you. Praying for you and others who have lost loved ones.

    December 15, 2016 at 3:32 am   |   Reply
  6. Emily

    Hey Rachel,
    I am up at 4:41am….cause I’m nutty like that sometimes…..I am just getting a chance to read your post….i wanted to tell you…. I didn’t cry either. It wasn’t my mom or even similar circumstances, but it was the only father I had ever know, the kindest most gentlest, wipe away tears, wrap you in a blanket when it’s cold, let you take over his favorite chair , fetch you something warm to drink, all the while telling you to thank God for it all kinda person…the person that when I was truly in trouble and needed someone to show up and didn’t have a phone to call….there he was…..I promise I thanked Jesus over and over when I saw that truck coming up the road. But when it came to those moments… the funeral ….I didn’t cry….I missed him already and hated to go to see my grandmother without him there but he always talked about when he wouldn’t be there and how I “needed to listen” to whatever he was trying to teach us because he wouldn’t be there one day…and talked about Jesus and sometimes about dying like talking about the weather…looking bk at those moments and knowing his relationship with Jesus, and faith that when this life was over his life would just
    be beginning, helped me get through it in my way….there was even someone handing out tissue to everyone ….yeah even me….the dry eyed one…so after all that I hope when it hits you like a freight train you will find comfort in whatever and however it is….and thanks for sharing and saying it’s ok.

    January 10, 2017 at 12:34 pm   |   Reply

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