On not hitting the ‘pause’ button in the rough times

‘Life is not coming to me ‘in pieces’; it’s unfolding regardless of the emotional rollercoaster of a given day or week’

me

Do you ever notice how we constantly talk about ‘getting through’ something?

I know I do. I tend to divide life into ‘categories’ or ‘chapters.’

I’m either doing well, or I’m doing not-so-well, or I’m sad — or the day is brighter than most. But what I’m learning is this: every single experience we have is ‘life’. It’s not coming to me ‘in pieces’; it’s unfolding seamlessly regardless of the emotional rollercoaster of a given day or week.

I’m speaking, of course, from the perspective of dealing with grief.

My mom passed away last January, so this year has been one of enormous personal loss and sorrow. Combine that with this pandemic, and it’s been an extremely difficult time.

I have also learned how our culture, much of the time at least, doesn’t really know what to do with grief. I think that some people wish you could flip a switch and turn it off, at least for awhile. Or hit that non-existent ‘pause’ button.

We are uncomfortable with expressions of pain, and I guess that’s natural. But it doesn’t diminish it in any way.

Grief demands to be experienced, and it tends to have a will of its own.

During the past many months, I have observed how some people view it.

Some people seem to deny it altogether. I’m not sure why they would choose to do that, because it isn’t a healthy or realistic alternative. Others seem to not experience it at all, or very minimally.

Other people seem to convince themselves that feeling sad won’t serve any purpose, so why let yourself go there?

For me, I was blessed with a fantastic mom. We were extremely close, so my grief has been like a looming mountain in my life all these months — seemingly unmovable. And this all ties into what I was mentioning earlier about how life is a journey. You don’t hit pause every time you encounter pain or challenges. You keep moving on through them — not because you want to, but because you must.

For me, my Christian faith is central to finding that grace to go on. My life is built on this, so I know that I am never alone in this journey. I pray every single day for help, for hope and for the strength to find my footing.

Also, this year, like no other, has shown me how vulnerable we all are. Life is smooth-sailing when everything is serene — but death, pain, disease and trial throw that sense of security out the window and you can feel very small.

But even then, I have found hope. With not much going on these days, I rediscovered my love for walking and it’s during those times I find prayer a natural activity to take part in. I have a renewed love for the scriptures as well. I know that not everyone can relate to me in this, but I have to emphasize that these things have been foundational to me.

In the meantime, sometimes when I think of my mom, I can still hardly believe that she is gone. I can hear her voice pretty clearly some days; I imagine what she would say about a given situation. I miss her very much.

And with the approach of the holiday season, I feel a kind of dread trying to cover me. This was one of her favourite times of year, so facing it can feel overwhelming.

I think part of that is because my mother provided me with a huge sense of security, and without that, I feel like there are days when the ground is splitting apart under my feet. When I was with mom, I felt like I was at ‘home.’ She provided the essence of home to me. It wasn’t merely a place — it was a sense of having something even more real than that.

So my point? Let’s welcome each day just for what it is. If you are grieving, don’t fight it. Don’t look at it as a period of time to endure and to get through until normalcy resumes. Try to learn and grow from it, and resist any urge to panic at the thought of it.

Don’t hit the ‘pause’ button and try to turn your thoughts away from what you are feeling right now. Don’t look at grief like a foreign thing, or like an intruder that must immediately be shown the door.

It’s all part of this path you are on — it’s ‘life.’ You may feel alone, but you aren’t. I don’t know who wrote this, but I completely agree: “Grief never ends, but it changes. It’s a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith — it is the price of love.”

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