Sunday, February 12, 2017

My Grief List

I haven't I've written and rewritten two books in the past 6 months, and have another one on the way. So, I haven't posted much, but I guess I am writing a ton. Besides writing, I've been doing life big time. And one thing that has been part of my life is a class at my church called, "Grieving" (It's the second book of a series. I took the first class, "Grounding", and learned amazing tools on how to grow a healthy self-concept and develop good mental health skills).

I would have never looked on this past year as one of grief, but I am beginning to realize that it has been mostly that. I mean, I've had a BLAST in almost every part of my life. Great times with friends, hubby, and kiddos. I've received TWO book contracts and have more hopefully on the horizon, and I've transitioned pretty smoothly in to part-time work. No, there is no grief in all that. I am overwhelmed with gratitude at the beautiful view over my shoulder at 2016.

But, if I tilt my head just a bit, and see the distant memories that skimmed last year and the year before, I see things that twist my heart and make me yelp in the midst of my joy. I see what I've lost, and what I am grieving without knowing it.

Now, the causes of my heartache might seem petty to you, not as important as that person's grief over there. But one thing that this Grieving class has taught me is that loss, big or small, can affect us deep and long if we don't grieve them in a healthy way.

So, in order for me to move forward in healthy grief, I am going to share some things that have sliced my heart--things that might just be a pin prick or a slight scrape, but none the less, my heart aches and trips up and begs me to heal.

My Grief List (in no particular order):

1. My dear friendships. I am fiercely loyal, and super enthusiastic about long-lasting friendships. It
takes me a good long while to feel safe with a new friend...that might be why I only have a few tight ones. But what I've learned over the course of these many months, is that life seasons usher friendships into view or out of reach like a leaf being tossed about on the wind. 
I'm not saying that my out-of-daily-touch friendships are less important than my newer ones. But my heart aches for those that have fled to the outskirts of my daily routine, and I mourn what they use to be, and pray that my path and theirs cross soon and more often.

It's easy for me to downward spiral into negative thoughts, worries, and over-analysis of WHY--but, in my class, I am learning that WHY is not the question I really seek--it's actually, HOW can I radically accept the grief of memories and life that no longer looks the same as today?

2. Motherhood Season. There is certain loss throughout the stages of motherhood. I think it's because I had so many expectations built up, and I've grieved each one as they came crashing down in the shadow of my fallibility and guilt. My firstborn baby is now a man-child...I've lost my second child's compliant, happy-go-lucky attitude to the sass and snark of a pre-teen...and my two babies have become growing children-- independent, unmoved by mom entering the room, and growing up way faster than I'm comfortable with.

This year, my house emptied during the daytime hours as my last baby went to school. And while this season was anticipated and welcomed (mostly because she's a social bug), my mama grief trips every once in a while-- the ache consumes me so that I hold her tight when she gets home and I secretly want my baby back. This grief also spurs on my first mentioned grief of friendship shifts because there's something about having a child home that makes mama friendships grow. Life is different, friends are different, and my house is not these four walls caving in, but our home base when everyone comes together again. There's good in that, and there's grief in that.

3. My sweet tooth.  Let's lighten the mood for a moment. But really, this is no joke. I am seriously not okay with this. I've been very conscious about making wise choices, cutting the sugar, and eating real food for about a year now, and my identity as Chocolate Lover of the Century is sadly being passed along children. Yes, the apple doesn't fall far from last year's tree. ;) So, in this grief or loss, I am managing my expectations of my children ever feeling the need to say goodbye to sugar. That will become another battle for another day.

4. My Heart's Desire.  Marriage is fine. GREAT. BEST EVER. Except for that teensy weensy well, GINORMOUS mountain of spirtually mis-matched hearts. We've gotten through the valley of this new normal, and honestly, he's my bestest friend...more than ever. But sometimes, it's easy to look back and crave the old, to want to stomp my foot and demand that we just get past the garbage already, and start living life the way we lived it before. Especially when it comes to church. Sundays are hard. They trigger my grief the most.

I don't like sitting alone in church. I don't think I'll ever like it. And it's not because I need to "look" the part of a loving family, or that I even need my husband to complete me. It's just that his absence is a big fat reminder of our loss in like-mindedness, and that giant crack in our family's foundation. I feel the tremors from it when my kids don't want church in their lives, and I grieve the broken dream that we'd do life together best with Christ as our center.

But one thing I know about grief, is that it's not in vain--if I am wise to it, if I know how to respond to it when it triggers...and if I remember that I am His and He is mine, I trust that Joy is inevitable in the end.

So, that's my list...just for now...I can think of more, but transparency can be another trigger to grief, as I know that sometimes I share what needs to be worked out between God and me first. It's good to grieve, to understand the loss and why I feel pain. To remember God in the midst of it all and see His hand, and to let go of the old expectations, the crippling power of nostalgia, and the control of wanting to fix the hurt.

If you want to learn more about the series, "Gardening Your Life" by Heidi Vermeer-Quist, check it out HERE. I am blessed to know Heidi and learn from her every week!