February 28, 2019
Healing Time in Nuevo, Mexico…
There is much to be said on grieving, yet not much at all. One goes in a circular motion of missing the beloved taken from this earth who is just beyond reach and being in the depths of despair, to feeling alive again, if just for a small bit…though the missing him never goes away. But for the grace, comfort and healing of God in my life I doubt I would be further along in the process for it is easy to get stuck and stay in a pit. I don’t let myself, but it is very easy to go into that pit. All it takes to cry is looking at Glen’s picture, viewing the pictures from the Celebration of Glen’s Life, viewing the video that my friend made up of the burial service where I literally am feeling and looking…broken.
I can get empathetic feelings for the woman in the pictures bent over her beloved’s coffin ready to be placed in the ground…wondering what she is feeling is really quite evident by the posture… A posture of grief and alone, of feeling robbed of life. Yet in that grief there are pictures of others standing with her. Her Dad is there who came to comfort her and place his arm around her whilst all others stood by unsure what to do. How grateful she must have felt at his presence! The picture of Pastor Dave Schaeffer who came from Texas to do the service for a dear friend who had passed away to the next realm who stood by the grieving woman at the coffin a second time… the widow who just didn’t or perhaps in that moment couldn’t let go… Again, the gratefulness of this woman must have been intense. Pastor Dave asked the woman, “What is Jesus telling you right now?” The woman answered without hesitation through the tears that ran without stopping down her sad face, “He is showing me that Glen is crying too and Jesus is wiping away his tears. He misses me too.” And then I know, of course I know all along, that this woman who is bereft of her soul-mate, her partner in life, her beloved, the woman is me and was me all along.
Life is beyond surreal. When I look at Glen’s picture, it feels like he should just be around a corner. Surely he will walk in at any moment and life will go on as I believe that it should! But he doesn’t walk in. No one wakes me from this new reality, which is either an ongoing nightmare, or one big opportunity for new adventures in learning how to live life with a completely new norm. I choose to see it as such yet that is not without great effort on my part. Over many decades I have always chosen to choose positive, to choose hope, to choose life and joy in HIM. It is a brain habit that was well worth developing and to see me now I think I do look joyful and indeed do feel joyful most of the time. Yet I know well from many years of counselling and dealing with my own grief that one can indeed feel joy and deep sorrow at the same time. One can smile and still be missing someone deeply. One can even be happy and excited, yet still be in deep mourning and loss. It is a journey of the “bittersweet”. In psychology we call it “didactic”. I am acceptant of the bittersweet and know I can dwell in both at the same time.
I am here in Nuevo, Mexico out of the goodness of a few amazing friends hearts and their own nudging from the Holy Spirit that we, me and my boys, needed a place of warmth, sun and ocean breezes to heal…and they were absolutely right. This is such a place. It’s all bittersweet yet I still find myself reveling in the new adventure of it all. It’s a new adventure of discovering that I am ok, even if the “ok” has a new meaning, a new definition.
I have been reading CS Lewis book, “Observing Grief” (I think that’s what it’s called). I relate to most of it and I think it’s because Lewis never intended to publish it. It was his writings that came deep from an anguished soul after losing his wife to cancer. I feel deeply with him. His hearts cry is vulnerable and reaches the depths of my own grief. He puts it all into words and echoes my journals that are also never meant to be published. I’m not sure what CS Lewis thinks of his journal on grief that was published after his death, but I am sure that I am thankful it was published so that I could read it and know that I am not alone in my grief. Even his expressing that his sons don’t seem to grieve their mother as deeply as he is grieving her hits a note with me. My boys are grieving to be absolutely sure, but it is coming out more in their absolute exhaustion and lack of motivation. We talk, yet the talk is becoming less and less and it seems to me, though I don’t know this, that they don’t want to talk about it as much anymore… Yet that is boys, as Lewis says. At the same time my boys are being absolute rocks for me. I was happy to be able to tell them, when they do break down, that I am also there for them. We all grieve differently and as one is down the others can help and walk alongside.
A paragraph that stood out to me from C.S Lewis says this:
“Sorrow, however, turns out to be not a state but a process. It needs not a map but history, and if I don’t stop writing that history at some quite arbitrary point, there’s no reason why I should ever stop. There is something new to be chronicled every day. Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape. As I’ve already noted, not every bend does. Sometimes the surprise is the opposite one; you are presented with exactly the same sort of country you thought you had left behind miles ago. That is when you wonder whether the valley isn’t a circular trench. But it isn’t. There are partial recurrences, but the sequence doesn’t repeat.”
Today someone also sent me a link to a Facebook post on grief that went viral. I shared it on my Laurel Hildebrandt Facebook page. It compares grief to a very large ball that is inside a square. The square has a “pain” button and because the ball of grief is SO large the pain button is constantly being hit – which is exactly how it feels. In the first month or so EVERYTHING is concentrated on the missing beloved. Their face, their voice, their being is missed so very much that everything hurts beyond what one thinks that can be born. The losses are tremendous when you lose a spouse. You lose your spouse. You lose your soul mate. You lose your best friend. You lose someone to bounce ideas off of. You lose someone at the end of the day to debrief your day with. All those wonderful kinds of things that a spouse is, you lose. Your kids lose their Dad, which means that I am now their “everything” and they are my everything (of course God is in there but I am talking about the physical world for a bit where it feels like ALL is lost when you lose your spouse). Then there are the very practical losses of which you don’t even recognize until they hit you. You lose the person who, in my case, did most of the handy work and heavy lifting – because I don’t have the strength or know how. You lose the person who knows how to change the furnace filter and cells and clean them (which I know now!!), the person who is strong enough and knows how to change the whole house water filter (which I now know but am not strong enough to accomplish…). You lose an entire income and suddenly become a single parent. You even lose, and in my case had to repay the disability cheque because they literally cut it off the exact day the person passes away. I kid you not! I received a letter in the mail informing me of their condolences and if I could kindly repay them for that month…yes there is something really wrong with that picture. You lose the person who you go travelling with, camping with…and oh don’t even get me started on camping! I don’t know how to hook up and pull an RV let alone back one expertly into a camping spot without wrecking many things, nor how to make sure everything is working with it! Yes, I do have a plan to learn but at the moment I may as well have a plan to fly to the moon because it feels overwhelming and extremely daunting. I have lost the one who made me brave…
On feeling brave. I always thought I was so brave. Now I’m not so sure. I have relied on Glen probably too much for this bravery. I think in my pre-Glen days (were there really any of those? We’ve been together and known each other so long that I barely remember those days!)… But in my pre-Glen days, because there certainly were some, I would go out and shingle the barn roof with my Dad. I would help him pound fence posts into the ground (well…in all honesty my “help” was standing on the pounder to give it extra weight!). I would drive our acreage tractor, even with the trailer hooked up to it (but I don’t actually remember backing it? Maybe I backed it?). I had no qualms about driving our big van filled with youth kids to the ski hill in Saskatchewan that was two hours away in the snow when I was only 16 years old. I travelled to New Zealand and Australia with a friend when I was 19 years old. I travelled to Europe and did a short missions trip to Norway when I was 21 years old (again with a friend)…So do I have some bravery left? I must. It must be in there somewhere because this is still me even though I do feel that I lost a large part of me…
On that loss… My last blog post I told you about the vision of Glen and I looking like one lion. We were one. And Glen was physically ripped from me. Wrenched from me unwillingly on both our parts. John and Christy, and Danny and Sonja were over for supper the other day and I asked John to bring his guitar so we could worship together. We were singing the “Lion and the Lamb” song and I got a good vision of Jesus making me as a Lion whole again because Jesus was filling in the gaps. You see Jesus was always the whole Lion. Glen and I were just a part of the Lion making it one whole. Glen was physically wrenched from me but he is still a part of me, my heart will always hold him dearly to me and that makes him a part of me. My spirit and Glen’s spirit are still connected. Jesus continues to heal me, to heal my broken heart, to heal and regrow my missing leg, missing arm, missing half because He fills in the gap with HIMSELF. I do hope that makes sense! So, Jesus is the One who makes me brave… He always has been. It’s just that Glen was the human who made me brave and now it will take many humans to make me brave and walk alongside me, and I alongside them, as we lean on Jesus for bravery together.
Today, March 3, 2019, as I finish writing this, was a good day. The boys and I are in Nuevo, Mexico and we have met new friends whom I already love. They drove us around (thus helping us step past our un-brave comfort zones) and showed us some of the countryside. They encouraged us to surf or paddleboard. We rented paddleboards for the first time, which for me doesn’t constitute bravery because I love that sort of thing but for some going on the ocean is being brave. We ate Mexican food together with them and conversed on the way home about my dreams of a counselling and healing ranch that still seems beyond reach but perhaps with the wise counsel of others who are better at business than I am…perhaps this dream that I do feel God keeps pushing me towards even without my Glen…perhaps it could be a reality. Only God knows. I know that I can take one step at a time and face each hour with bravery from friends supporting my boys and me physically, and God supporting us constantly.
And so the grief ball gradually gets smaller. When it hits the pain button it hurts just as much and the pain is just as deep but because the ball is smaller it won’t hit it as much so one is not constantly in active grieving pain. Today the ball was smaller…