Loss made me very comfortable.
It was August 24th, 2015 when I got the call from my brother informing me that my father was gone. I felt the sting of empty promises and no goodbye. My father had slipped away and all the while I was in a parallel universe on the west coast shopping for wedding venues and preparing for my wedding.
When I got the call, I knew he was gone from the tone of my brother’s voice. I told my fiance beforehand that I would like to be alone with him when I got the news. So there we waited, and then the call came and my world crashed in on me. Before I knew it I was on a plane, picking out flowers and a casket, back on a plane, and back to “normal”. But I wasn’t normal. I was shattered but I was pushed by the currents of life to move on. Grief is not an emotion to be left on its on own and shut behind closed doors, or it becomes fear, depression, and anger.
It’s been 3 years, and with time the pain did fade and I was able to return half-heartedly to what life was. I did move on and come back but the world was more dull. However, this past year I began to realize I don’t wonder at what I can be in the world anymore. I don’t feel like giving effort. I became very afraid to lose again which in turn made outings with friends less invigorating, purpose more illusive, and taking risks became more impossible. I realized my life had become very safe and comfortable. I didn’t feel like pushing but I also felt very unhappy. Getting up and participating with life became too difficult. I kept asking myself What is wrong with you? Try harder! but still would struggle with wanting to face the day much less care about personal creativity and active participation with exciting opportunities. I now realize that I was in avoidance and despair. Once I realized I needed to have grace with myself I began to thaw out my icy heart.
I realized I needed color back in my life. I needed risk to feel alive. I needed to trust in my divine to feel a sense of purpose. I had closed my heart and hands down to pursuing dreams because I understood what could be snatched away in seconds or before you even know it is gone. After three years of living in the hamster wheel of living to work and working to live, I began to grow discontent. I began to be drawn to the reckless God-inspired dreaming of my youth. I began to miss passion and sacrifice. I didn’t want to repeat 17 year Whitney moving across the country but I was ready to embark on the deep joy of what God has in store for me without looking over my shoulder for tragedy.
Based on an article called Coping With Loss by National Institute for Health, there is a “course for grief”. They are Numbness, Pining, Disorganisation and despair, Reorganisation (NIH, 1198). I often found myself numb this year, coping with watching social media but not contributing, backing away from relationships, and being too tired for opportunities to lead with strength. The article states that avoidance of grief leads to chronic grief which in turn wreaks havoc on the human body, mind, and soul. Which course of grief do you find yourself in today?
The key for walking through my course of grief has been solely the love of my community pushing me to see life in color again, to trust again, and my God, who has never left my side despite despair.
You love and you lose. Loss can be crippling but you can experience the full joy of life again without the fear of tragedy. You can do this by realizing you may be checking out and coping and also recognizing your course of grief, giving yourself grace, and surrounding yourself with a community that can walk through this phase with you. This is what I am trying to teach myself, it isn’t me or you, it’s us.
We are getting through loss together.
I am ready to come back to the world of adventure and risk. I am ready to uniquely give what I was created to give to this world. I still have fear but I will live in courage, and life will have moments of terrible grief but also incredible heights of beauty. I want all that life can give to me.
I am ready to trust in God’s purpose for my life, that he is in control and that I am not spinning toward chaos but true purpose and eternity.
Have you ever felt the same? If so, let’s share together- let’s be community. As always live for today, and shine on for tomorrow’s world. I have linked the article referenced above, feel free to review and see the course of your grief!