. . . Totally consuming
. . .A journey
. . .A process
. . . Hard
. . .One of the hardest things I have done
. . .Humbling
. . . Life changing
Today marks 8 months since my dad slipped from this life into the next. Eight of the longest months in my relatively short life. Many have asked how I am doing at this point – wow that is a hard question to answer. One that does not lend itself to a short concise answer. But it is encouraging to know that there are people who care about this journey that I am on and are praying for me. Most days, I am thankful to put my head on my pillow and close my eyes, hoping that “tomorrow” will be better. It is generally more of the same.
Grief runs deep and permeates every aspect of life. I cannot escape it even though I have tried. Sadness still washes over me, but it is not the torrents that were rolling over me in the beginning. Each day I have to continue to put one foot in front of the other as I continue on this journey – one that I still don’t know much about. There are days when I am very productive and accomplish much, but those days are few and far between. Most days I just muddle through, hoping to make it from sunrise to sunset without too many major meltdowns. There are times when God feels so distant and yet he manages to comfort me – a profound mystery.
Grief has changed me in ways I didn’t expect. Grieving is a lot like going through a refiners fire (I Peter 1:7). I am becoming more tolerant and patient (but still have a very long way to travel on these). This is especially good when dealing with my youngest child who is struggling and does not have the words to express her emotions and struggles. Relationships have become more important than tasks and things. I have come to see the brevity of life and once gone, it can’t be retrieved. I don’t have any regrets with my dad. The last week I was able to spend with him was precious and I said all that I wanted to say. I want to live in such a way that people and relationships are valued and a priority. Not as easy as it sounds in this fast paced life we live in America.
Grief is also humbling. There are times when the grief overwhelms me in the most unlikely places – like the grocery store and for no apparent reason. Or I can be driving my son to Basketball and something is said or a song is played on the radio, and I am reminded of my dad and the flood gates open. For a type A person who likes to be in control, this is un-nerving, but I have come to see it as part of the process.
Probably the thing that took me by surprise was how grief has affected me physically! I knew from my counseling classes in grad school that grief can be hard on the body, but experiencing grief is a totally different story. The emotional stress put my body into shock and it took me a few months to figure out what was going on. While I continued to run and train which is a good way for me to process, the body was being depleted of certain things and it began to show up in physically in my body in various ways. I am now taking some time to focus on nutrition and exercise – slowing my training and racing schedule down to give my body time to recover. It seems to be working and my body is recovering – but again it is a slow process.
This next month will be really hard as I go through the first Christmas, New Year’s and my birthday without my dad. All holidays that he LOVED! Part of the reason I love the Advent and Christmas season as much as I do, is in part due to my dad’s love of the holiday. He loved the festiveness of the season. As a child, I did most of the holiday baking with my dad. He was an excellent baker. I learned a lot from just being around him, especially that recipes are optional!
As hard as this process has been, I am thankful for it. I am being changed as I continue walking through it.
It will be a hard 8 weeks as I continue to see the “holes” left since my father’s passing, but I am thankful for the memories that I have of a life lived well.