Facing Life With Grief.

Last week, I stood outside the church. I stood there for several minutes, just willing myself to go in. I like my church. I like the people inside. But, I don’t like going in anymore because it reminds me of my dad. It doesn’t remind me of his smile, his super loud laugh or his hugs. It reminds me of his funeral. It reminds me of the long and surreal walk into the church that day. It reminds me of the day that Brian somberly said “Your father is here” and I looked over to see men in suits carrying an urn. It reminds me of the day that I never wanted and will never be ok with.

I hesitated to write this because I don’t want to go on about my dad’s death. Because like I said before, we all have loss and my loss is not greater than yours; even though, it might feel that way to me. But, either way, my loss is definitely mine. They say there is no time limit for grief but, at the same time, there is an expectation that you will move on. I told a friend recently that I wasn’t in the mood to go out and party. With genuine concern, she asked me what was going on. The truth was that nothing new was going on. Things were going ok. But, my dad is still dead. So, I don’t have it in me. Hopefully, one day I will.

Anyway, in true Emily form, I gave myself permission to go on about it because, well, it’s my blog! 😉 But, also, I want to give you permission to still feel and deal with your losses.

My life is one big trigger now.

I’m eating lunch. I will never have lunch with my Dad again.
I laugh. I will never hear him laugh again.
I hug someone. I will never get hugged  by my dad again.
I’m late. My dad will never voice his frustration with me for being ridiculously late again. (But, he didn’t really get frustrated all that often because my entire family assumes I will be late, anyway.)

TV show deaths hurt more. (Like “This Is Us.” Seriously.)
Holidays and milestones hurt more. It’s just harder.

So, back to the church. I took a break for a few weeks after realizing I just wasn’t ready. But, I went back, mostly out of guilt. And, like I said, I really do like my church and definitely don’t want to get out of the habit of going. So, every week, I go in. Sometimes, I hide in the bathroom for a few minutes. Sometimes, like last week, I stand outside, dramatically. But, I always feel overcome by my grief.  I don’t say anything. I stand when I should, I sit when I should, I smile and shake hands. But, I don’t say anything. I don’t read along with the prayers and I don’t sing the songs. I guess it’s my own peaceful protest against “God’s plan.’ Thank goodness, we are expected to kneel sometimes or I’d be in trouble. 😉 I’m not trying to get attention, though, or make a point. I’m not trying to be rude. I just don’t accept what has happened. In my twisted perspective, if I start singing or saying my “amens,” I’m saying it’s ok. It’s ok what happened. And it’s not.

I envy those who go the other way. They throw themselves into church and find peace in that. But, I guess this is the way I have to go and I hope it’s not forever. But, what if it is? What if I never find peace? I’m terrified of that. Life is loss and there’s more to come. I’m terrified of that, as well. What if this is it? What if life is just a series of losses and the rest of the time is spent just coping with it or floating through? What if I don’t ever stop being so dramatic? 😉

I sat in church the other week, thinking (among other things) that I want to be ok again. Some days, I think I am. Some days, I don’t think I ever will be. But, when I sit down in church, all I can think is my dad is dead and I’m expected to be happy and grateful.  But, I’m not.

And, as I sat alone in the crowd, someone unlikely saw me. He is young and the last person I expected encouragement from. That day, he told me that he was glad I made it through and that he knows it’s hard. He said that people will tell you it’s easy to be a Christian but sometimes it’s not.

In another conversation, he told me that I should take it day by day and find one reason to make it through each day. He called it the morbidity of living. I think that is a very depressing yet fitting phrase.

And, what did I realize through those conversations? I realized that this is life. That doesn’t mean I like it and I definitely wouldn’t go so far as to say I accept it. But, this is life. This is morbidity of living. And, all I can do is take it day by day.

And, if I don’t continue with this now much more depressing life, I will miss out on some great lunches with the rest of my family, reasons to laugh, and hugs.  And tv, I definitely don’t want to miss out on TV!  I’m cool with missing out on anyone getting mad at me for being late, though. 😉

And, this week, as I stood there, watching three of my kids do their fancy torch bearing and crucifering in front of the congregation, William mouthed something to me. I, of course, had no idea what he was saying and was wondering why he thought this was the time to have a conversation. Then he came over and he whispered “Are you ok?” I told him that I was. And, then I realized that I actually was. In that moment, I was ok. I realized that I had made it through a whole service and while I still felt disconnected and lost, I had hung in there. I hadn’t snuck off to the bathroom to hold back tears or hung out in my van for a quick decompress. I had hung in there. It’s a far cry from singing “Kumbaya” arm-in-arm with my priest (don’t worry, Mother Ronnie, I won’t surprise you with a group sing!). But, it’s something. And I was also reminded of William’s good heart that is sometimes hidden deep under the angsty teenager exterior.

That’s all I’ve got. Because now I’ve triggered myself with my own words and I’m crying because I miss my dad. But, I’m going to continue to take it day-by-day like a shockingly wise young man advised me to do because what else can I do? And I’ll be as patient with myself as possible. I’m going to focus on my mom who I am grateful for, beyond words.

And I’m going to try to remember to treasure the moments with my entire family because they are fleeting. And, you should do all that smart stuff, too. Because we all have losses and we all need to feel loved.  And, at the risk of crossing the line from touching to cheesy, let’s love each other.

 (Can I get away with it? Too cheesy?)





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