Mornings of mourning…

I remember waking up one morning when I was about seven months pregnant with one of my three children. I don’t remember which one it was – it is very likely that this occurred with each of them. I remember waking up and feeling so very tired of being awkward and uncomfortable and fatigued and… pregnant. A part of me wished I could declare myself un-pregnant just for a day – to be able to breathe without pressure on my lungs, to feel less cumbersome, to have a brief respite from the exhaustion that comes with growing a new life. The thought lingered momentarily, but reality and the anticipation of actually holding that new life gently supplanted it and I manoeuvered my bulging body into an upright position to purposefully face another day…
I woke up one morning last week feeling so very worn out from living with loss. I wished I could declare myself un-grieving just for a day – to be able to breathe without the pressure on my heart, to feel less conspicuous and observed, to have a brief respite from the complete exhaustion that comes with losing a life. It’s not as though I am walking through daily life with a black-clad spirit of mourning and gloomy grey never-ending drizzle. I am actively engaged in life, but it takes energy to manage both life and loss – a lot of energy.
The wisdom from veteran grievers tells me to lean into grief, to own my grief, to not let it become my identity. Appropriate advice, to be sure, but it requires an expenditure of self. Some days it feels like the process of doing all this leaves self somewhat emaciated.
Grief is paradoxically both a very lonely, isolating journey and a very public, corporate undertaking. In spite of bleak moments of painful aloneness, I do not grieve alone. This is both a solace and a challenge. My husband and two other children are grieving as well, but their journey does not mirror mine. Sometimes it may actually be easier to grieve alone than to watch somewhat helplessly as other loved ones battle their way through the emotions that consume and overwhelm. Grief rubbing shoulders with grief can aggravate wounds more than caress them. New vulnerabilities abound. It takes energy to manage intertwining grief so that it doesn’t break necessary bonds. Gratefully, our bonds are still holding – and in many ways gaining new strength.
We have been surrounded with caring, giving, supportive people throughout the past few months. It has been a blessing that has both encouraged and humbled me. In light of this, my next comment will likely sound very ungrateful, but that is not the case; it is simply a statement that speaks to the world-weariness that accompanies a grieving spirit. At times having so many others aware of my grief leaves me feeling like a mobile observation laboratory. Like scientists armed with Geiger-counters, my friends, family, and colleagues are continually monitoring me to be sure that my grief levels are within safe parameters. I appreciate this so very much, but at the same time it can be tiring to answer the many inquiries as to how I am doing. I want to be honest, but I don’t always have the emotional energy to truly express what I am feeling, nor am I sure that I even have the words to articulate it so that it would make sense to others. Sometimes I need to talk about something else. Sometimes I need to know how other people are doing so I feel more a part of the conversation rather than the object of it. Sometimes I do need to talk. And sometimes I just simply need to be alone. It requires energy to live grief before others in a way that prevents it from becoming my identity and my existence, in a way that balances the public and the private moments, and in a way that honours the sacrificial willingness of others to journey with me.
And so I had a grief-weary morning last week. The weariness continues to linger, and I will likely have many more such mornings, or afternoons, or evenings, but the honest frankness of reality cajoles my spirit – a life has ended and it must rightly be grieved. Nothing is going to change that. But life itself has not ended, and it must be lived – rightly, honestly, with integrity, with grace, and with hope that gives strength.
“Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and His understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:28-31

1 thought on “Mornings of mourning…”

  1. Charis,

    I just happened upon your blog and can’t wait to sit down and read all of it. I read your last entry which was written just days before my Mom died.

    Thank – you for the many ways you have encouraged me since I first met you in June ’06


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