Saturday, April 18, 2015

"Living" with Grief

"Only Grieving can release us from grief" - Joan Chittister

"Going on" with "normal" life since Abby has gone is one of the most challenging things I have ever faced.  What is normal? And just what exactly is the "new normal" everyone keeps referring to and how will it look for us and our newly restructured family of 5? 
At first in those nightmarish weeks that followed her death, I wanted to run from the grief and the numbing pain. Now at the 9 month mark,  I am learning to embrace it as I have come to understand that for me, embracing and truly feeling "it" actually facilitates healing. 
Watching my children grieve and trying to walk with them has been very interesting and enlightening.  Not only do they each portray their feelings VERY differently, they truly are all doing the process differently.  Lowell and I are like that.  What blesses me can sometimes be a huge irritation or painful reminder for him and vice versa. 
I write, hence the fact you are here.  It is soothing for me to pen words and send them out in to virtual never never land.  I have spoken my piece.  I have gotten pressure of words needing to burst out off my chest. And like the mentioned in the Bible, healing balm of Gilead, people respond.  You pray. You encourage.  You walk this most painful journey with me.
For my children, I am finding that our grief therapy with Kendra Bailey (Imagine Therapy in North Liberty for you locals who may need someone...) and the activities she encourages are most helpful.
For Kali, the most unlikely thing has been so very wonderful....a doll! Now for those of you who really know her, you will remember she has never played with dolls.  Never.  All of a sudden she took and interest and purchased the American Girl knock off from Target with her birthday money from Nana. Now I find her quietly playing, nurturing, healing with her Claire...She told me the other day how she is going to hurry with her school work so she can have longer summer days to play with Claire.

 I am seeing more genuine smiles.....

For Hunter who has always been my deep thinker, he loves to build and design and create. His quiet sweetness has shown much strength but recently as we drew close to the 9 month mark, he seemed to be showing some distress. What I did not put together right away was how very deeply the death of our pastor who was only 59, affected him.  He shared a birthday with pastor Don who often brought him a birthday card treat. Now Don, like Abby, is with Jesus and one by one the circle of our family and friends leave.  What does that mean to the 7 year old mind?  The same mind who has to reabsorb and ponder the terrible flashbacks he sometimes verbalizes to me. He misses her and now instead of telling jokes he is showing a deeper grief that some days consumes him. But he is resilient and soon is back to his jolly self and keeps quite busy with his challenges of creating, building and problem solving.

usual thoughtful pose with sucker or candy drop in mouth

My princess, Miss Alexia has seemingly been quite happy to take over Abby's spotlight.  She has not vocalized much and unlike her siblings who still thank God for Abby in their prayers, she does not usually mention her. It is like a part of her world simply vanished.  She too, at this 9 month mark has showed visible signs of grief in new ways for her.  She has come often with comments and sometimes objects..."mama, when Abby was here..."  She too has spent lots of time with her Josphina which Nana got her for her birthday.  It has been such a bonding force for her and Kali.  I can often hear them as I drift off to sleep putting the dolls to bed or braiding their hair or changing the outfits late into the night.  Healing comes in different and sometimes unexpected ways.  
She is also begging to learn and do school and is starting to write me notes like this one which came accompanied with the sweetest kiss, hug and I love you.

9 months has been more difficult for us then I imagined. Someone recently told me that 9 months is often when the reality of the finality sets in.  I think that is true.

My office is filled with plants from the funeral that are flourishing and doing well.  They bring me tremendous peace and provide tranquility. 

 The violets are brilliant in color and are in their second round of blooming.  The beautiful, ever so delicate, China Doll is growing by leaps and bounds as is the 2nd plant which I recently transplanted off of the original. 
While I am not always positive, I am trying my hardest to note the beauty in our pain. 
"Going on" is most certainly one of the toughest tasks I have faced but just as the gifts of beauty in the flowers mentioned and the small steps of healing each one of us is experiencing, I am confident in the strength of the one who continues to carry us through the day to day toughness. He is the reason we are able to keep living in the midst of darkness and grief.  Blessed be HIS name!

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