Grief ignores my schedule and plans. It doesn’t always allow me to ride a wave. This is one of the things that I dislike the most about grief. I would like to think I’m a pretty even keel person. I thrive with a busy schedule and operate best under time constraints and deadlines. I suppose I like to know what’s expected of me, what I need to accomplish. That drives me. I procrastinate at times, but I’m very good under pressure. I give myself deadlines to finish things. Otherwise, I’m really good at putting things off in favor of adding more to do. My husband and I both have a habit of leaving projects 98% finished (The almost three year old kitchen remodel still awaiting crown molding and the last couple of baseboards from him and caulking and grout for the backsplash from me). Grief doesn’t follow my rules, commitment, and work ethic. It doesn’t for most people. For example, I LOVE my photography business. I love to see the excitement from clients and the finished product. I love the interaction with the lovely people I meet. Lately, it can be so hard to focus and get sessions edited. I get it done and I still love it. It’s just that what used to take me one hour can take 3-4 on any given day, or 45 minutes on another when I get hyper-focused. It’s confusing and frustrating.
That’s one of the odd thing about grief. You can’t always predict how you’ll feel or force things. In certain settings, I’m really good about stepping up my hold it together, focus game. It all goes back to that pressure thriving I’m good at. Some say, “Well, it’s been six months!” while others say, “It’s only been six months.”. This is when I say, please read this. I’m not so interested in what Joel Osteen says. His ignorance speaks for itself. I more appreciate Mrs. Fell’s metaphor for grief.
This past weekend has been amazing. I went to bed so very happy last night. I should have known. I’m not sure what I dreamt about. I once had very vivid dreams that’d I’d remember in the morning without any trouble, but not since Caleb died. I just know that I usually wake up tired. This morning was no different, but I woke up sad. This really bothers me. I had a headache, my neck and shoulders were tense, and I even felt nauseated. The first two things that came to mind were “Ugh, I just can’t today” and “Damn!”. I had a beautiful Sunday School lesson/discussion to lead with the 12-14 year old youth at church. E was saying a prayer at the start of her Primary time. This is the first Sunday after A’s summer camp experience. I wanted to be there.
So, I took some ibuprofen, hopped in the shower, and tried to let the steamy water do it’s thing. Okay, I started to feel a bit better. The team effort got everyone dressed, hair done, and out the door. Church services were good. I could feel the Holy Ghost, but I could also feel my lack of energy. I felt like a piece of flint and everyone else was steel. I’d run into others in the hall, there’d be a brief spark of energy and charisma, then it’d fade as I walked away. It started to become exhausting. I wanted so badly to be my energetic, chatty self. I felt like I kept blowing on that spark, trying to get the fire started, but I was wasting my breath and leaving myself winded. Then, came our women’s meeting at the end of church.
We have 45 minutes or so at the end of church where all of the women meet together to teach, uplift and edify one another in Christ’s gospel. I love it. I had spent a bit of time chatting with the teenage girls in the hall, so I walked in a minute or so late and found a seat on the back row. I was trying to hold onto some of that youthful energy I’d just been surrounded by, but I could feel it fading a bit. My head was starting to feel foggy and I was slipping into a place that lacked focus. I couldn’t recall what the discussion was going to be about. Then, it was announced. A talk from a dear church leader that is seared into my heart. That has become one with my soul and has produced so many thoughts, feelings, and emotions in me since I first heard it not even four months after the death of my baby boy. It can be found here.
I was immediately overcome with emotion, but I couldn’t let it out. I wasn’t going to be that sobbing, grieving mom again. I’d already spent a few times at church, scrambling to find an empty room to ugly cry in. Then, my self talk started. “No. Focus. This is one of those times where you can do so much good. You know this talk. You have insight that needs to be heard. The Holy Ghost has testified so much to you, made it a part of you, taught you. Now share!” That’s when it began.This discussion. This setting that swirled with talk of trials, hardships, grief, faith, hope, charity, service, and the comfort that can be found became a giant pinball machine. My brain, my thoughts? They became the ball. I sat there, bouncing around so many thoughts and feelings in my head that I couldn’t formulate a coherent thought. Soon, the closing prayer was said and I bolted from the room without saying a word.
I hurried to our van and shut myself inside. Then, I could hear myself again. “I can’t breath! Why can’t I breath! You’ve had so many epiphany moments with this talk, why couldn’t you open your stupid mouth! You’re striving to increase public dialogue and knowledge about grief and you blew it! You could have at least thanked that roomful of women who have saved you at times throughout this for their faith, hope, and charity! What is wrong with you!” I just felt even more exhausted. I came home and laid down for awhile and pleaded with God to know what the point of today was. So, he answered. Blog it.
This is grief. This is life. This is what happens as the internal burns heal and the scar tissue is learning to bend and stretch again. So, do not presume or assume too much about a grieving person. Whether it’s been 6 days, 6 years, or 60, the wounds and scars are still there. We may pinball less, but only because time allows us the chance to adapt, not heal fully. And, as I’ve said before, scar tissue is easily burned. It is true that the pinball slows and even stops. That’s when you can see the scuffs and scars, but it still reflects the game around it. The entire game can be seen in that ball. It’s gained much experience. I may be burned, but I’m blessed to know who my refiner is.