Posts tagged ‘loss of parent’
All this time, I thought I’d given the funeral home the wrong lipstick color.
I never was much of one to wear makeup, though I’d grown up seeing my mother paste it on before the rare occasions she’d leave the house. So I didn’t pay attention to her lip shade.
Itty bitty nonessential details gain new importance after a death. If you are like me, any morsel of new information is precious. My parents can’t tell me things anymore, but I long to know the things I’ve forgotten and to learn the things I didn’t know.
It’s been 8½ years since I dug in my mother’s train case – boxy luggage that sat on a lady’s lap and contained the makeup she may use on a train. I selected a lipstick. It looked too orange. Too bright. Surely this wasn’t her color.
Beginnings are full of promise, aren’t they? Filled with anticipation and hope, we launch into a new career, a new home, a new relationship or, as now, a new year.
But death and grief are about endings. We mourn what was. We’re sucked into a vortex, unwilling at first to believe we’ll be happy again. But I assure you, there’s hope ahead.
It’s been said that every ending is a new beginning, and I’ve found that to be true. We often focus on the ending, though. On what was lost. On what will never be again. And that is grief.
We must mourn unhappy endings to get past them. Of course, we have the choice not to fully grieve and to distract ourselves instead. But if we hope to achieve joy equal to our sorrow, we must grasp grief’s hand and cry. For as long as it takes.
I got married three months before my mother died. She was terminally ill and unable to come to the wedding. After the reception, my husband and I visited her at her home. I wanted her to see me in my wedding dress. I wish I’d insisted on a photo, but she didn’t like her photograph taken. She’d always made herself up, but now she didn’t have the strength.
I want to pause to thank all my readers for their support in 2017 and recognize that excitement over a new year might escape us as grievers, especially if our loss is fresh.
The country stands at the precipice of 2018, glancing behind and gazing ahead, but as grievers we likely have been doing that all along, since the day death took the person we love.
We rehearse the memories, good and bad, and tiptoe into a future we didn’t predict. We stand between past, where our loved one lived, and the future, an existence without their touch.
But life isn’t without hope. In fact, life is pregnant with hope. As in all pregnancies, we must wait for hope to come to full term in our lives. In recent posts, I’ve shared how hope is being realized in my life and how grief and death don’t have the last word in our lives.
Each Christmas is the first Christmas for someone – the first Christmas without mom or dad. Or without a husband or wife or child. Or without a grandparent or uncle or best friend.
All the carols, all the joy, all the tinsel. It feels like a dagger to the chest. The loss of who isn’t there is so profound, so consuming. So in the face. Is there any end to this pain?
The contrast is so clear – at Christmas we celebrate God’s gift to us. But we’ve been robbed, for all death is a theft. What will God give to us? What balm does he offer?
Will we ever be happy again? Will Christmas ever be beautiful again?
Sometimes we blame God because, at the very least, He did not prevent the death. We know everyone dies but we want a say-so in how and when, yet we know we do not have a say-so. We know death will come and then we get mad when it does. We know evil lurks in the world to “steal, kill and destroy” and we are surprised when it successfully takes our loved ones. Grief will not be quelled with logic, with factual data about how the world works. We mourn.
I found a parking lot and no trespassing signs on the 8-foot-tall chain link fence. Their home was gone. I clutched the wire, pressed my face against it, and hung there like a forlorn child. A piece of my parents I wanted to touch was out of reach. Actually, nonexistent.
I wasn’t totally surprised the house wasn’t there anymore. The miracle of Google Maps had prepared me. At my home near Memphis earlier, I’d searched for my parents’ old address on Margaret Street in the Atlanta suburb of Hapeville. Google showed me a photo of another address, as if the house I’d asked for no longer existed.
I sensed a need to be in touch with my parents, and so I got out the greeting cards. I possibly have one of the largest collections known to man.
I collected them from throughout the house. Over the past eight years, I discovered them inside dresser drawers, on top of the coffee table and used as markers in books. One by one, I put them in a shoe box on the dining room table.
I stacked them so high, the lid hovered high over the box.
I’ve loved going through my parents’ belongings, though it’s been a difficult task emotionally. Now its down to the wire. Few things remain, such as the greeting cards. Read more
I’m thrilled about the direction my life is headed, but a month ago I was too sick and worn down to make such a statement. Do you feel beat up by life? By illness? By grief? As I did, you probably are looking for a comeback, for a way to get back in the game – and on top of your game. How do we do that? What measures must we take?
As I look back over the past year, I find four principles that instigated my turnaround.
Believe in a Comeback. We must have faith that a comeback is possible. Sounds simple enough, but when we’ve been repeatedly beaten up by circumstances, we begin to lose hope sometimes. We feel stuck. We can’t see a way out, and so we may stop looking for an escape route. The Bible says, “As a man thinketh, so is he.” Our battle’s first stop is our own mind.
Strategize a Comeback. Our problems can become quite complicated. To untangle the issues, create a plan of attack. For seven months, I thought my health problems would go away. I finally decided they wouldn’t until I took a new course of action. I wrote down my symptoms – all eight of them! – and then formulated a strategy to address each one, one by one.
As green leaves transform into shades of yellow, orange, red and rust, I realize grief is a seasonal creature, and I’m faced again with its shifting nature.
Winter arrives with the cold hand of death. It takes our parent, our husband, our child, and the landscape of our lives feels barren without them. We struggle to survive just a day.
Spring comes. A glimmer of hope. A bud of new life. We still wrap ourselves against the chilly air, but we feel the warmth of hope in our hearts. There is something to live for.
Summer teaches us that grief is a test of endurance. We’re sweating it out with the realization grief does not end, but it is different than what we felt in the winter of our sorrow.