Today I feel called to write about grief work and the repercussions of losing a loved one. This post is not meant to celebrate sorrow at all, but rather, to highlight what might encompass the work we need to do in our grief journey.
If you think there's a timeline on your grief, then you are absolutely DEAD WRONG. Grief has no timeline, no COMPLETION DATE, no FINALLY-I-PASSED-THE-FINISH LINE.
YOUR GRIEF IS FOREVER. YOUR LOSS DEEPLY PERSONAL. YOU WILL GRIEVE YOUR LOVED ONE'S DEPARTURE TIL YOU TAKE YOUR LAST BREATH.
I'm not trying to scare you or be melodramatic. I am only speaking truth. Let's be as transparent as possible, shall we?
To say your loved one has passed on and met the pearly gates and poof, they are gone forever is dismissive and rather dull, don't you think? While they walked this earth, they were vibrant, BOLD and celebrated life in all their TECHNICOLOR SPLENDOR, so now tell me...how do you expect them to just be a tiny wisp of vapor in the grand scheme of things? Ancient history in the broad spectrum of the silver screen of life that is pulsing with action and excitement. Please. Spare me.
Let me tell you what I think about this grief work. It's called WORK for a reason. We shift and stumble in our grief journey, we have valleys and peaks, we will crest the highest mountain with joy one moment and be down in death valley the next. One sunny day, we'll think we are "FINALLY PAST IT"and whoopeee!!! I feel so much better!!! I'll never shed another tear again. WRONG. DEAD WRONG. Your grief journey, I am sorry to say, follows you like your own shadow. It's everywhere and down every avenue and alley way.
It's the scent of perfume on a lady passing by or the hint of aftershave on a man who crosses your path and sends your senses reeling back to that moment in time when they were in your arms or closeby in a warm conversation...it's the song that randomly comes on in Safeway as you bag your Granny Smith apples or choose your favorite cereal. Grief work is the random name a passing person calls out in a crowd..."come here Zach" a mother calls out to her tousled haired boy....and you freeze on the spot and feel numb all over, just like the day you found out they'd breathed their last breath and they were never coming back. Or perhaps it's the woman who calls out "Trent" in the midst of your deep thoughts while fulfilling an important errand. It could also be the license plate on a car in front of you that says SANDY22 that suddenly makes the dam bust open and the last 15 years you lost with Sandy come rushing back and you suddenly recall that you've lost many years with your loved one and the kids that she should've raised with you have all grown up right before your eyes and gone off to college! Oh the heartbreak! Oh the sensations! Now the dam has busted and you're trying to wipe your eyes and see the road ahead as you drive. See how real this grief thing is?
Sorry to make the floodgates open all over again. It's just that tonight I've felt convicted to share the feelings in my heart and how my own loss has altered, broken and molded me into the woman that I am today. I have no one else to thank but my Loving Trent who took his life on a sunny Saturday morning at 6:00 a.m. Pacific time on June 11, 2016 in Vacaville, California with a gun in his mouth in his own front yard. Trent Rigel Gardner, the musical mastermind, the poet, the unassuming rock star, the private man with paranoia who suffered in silence, the brilliant, courageous cop, the loving father, the caring soulmate, the provider and protector who fought his demons till the bitter end. He loved me so hard and deeply, was my best friend and confidante, and he loved me JUST AS I AM, the way no one else ever could. Never made me change, never criticized or belittled me, or expected anything other than my own magnificent self. I celebrate him today and always. For, meeting him has made me a better woman. I've grown, I've cried, I've sobbed like a baby, become a hot mess, was confused and lost, and found my way (gratefully) through my grief journey, and 3 years later, I'm here to tell my story of victory. Trent I love you forever. I'm proud of who I've become through this process and what I've learned. I wouldn't change a single thing and I don't regret loving you.
So you see, this "grief work" is eternal. It never changes and it never goes away. Our loved one(s) walk beside us daily. We learn as we go, pick ourselves up off the ground and straighten ourselves out. We chide ourselves for not being "over it yet" and how dare we cry silently in secret corners or private rooms when we've certainly had "long enough" to process and get over this thing called loss.
Don't beat yourself up and don't you dare chastise yourself for not wiping the slate clean. Your memories, feelings, emotions, love and passion are all VERY REAL AND VALID parts of the grief journey. Embrace who you are, always remember your loved one, and learn to welcome the flood of tears when they come. Because as they say, where there was GREAT LOVE there is also DEEP GRIEF. For sorrow is the price you must pay for loving someone so completely.
Finally, I'm here to commend and salute you for the courage you've shown in your grief work. Bravo!!! Round of applause! Keep going!!! It never ends, but it does get better, I promise you.
Cheering for you always,