My Mom and I were driving home after spending yet another day sitting at my Father’s bedside. He was dying of cancer and had been bedridden already for a year. Time seemed to completely stand still during those two years as we all moved through a variety of emotions and struggled with our thoughts.
I am reminded that at any moment during my day, someone else is in that very place where we were so long ago. In a hospital waiting room, or driving home after visiting their loved one and being given no hope of a brighter future…
As we crested the hill towards home that evening, massive fireworks exploding in the sky, greeted us. Bursting loudly in all their glory and noise, we were left confused and disoriented … because this just doesn’t happen on a normal day!
Remembering the month … then the day that we were in, we were shocked that we had completely forgotten what day it was. A day of celebration that others paid a very high price for us to enjoy.
The TV and Internet is loaded with news of horrendous stories of death, loss and grief. Wars, murders, abuse and betrayal fill our airwaves and threaten to overwhelm us with fear and worry, stealing our peace and joy.
Grief is bad enough. When great loss is experienced the certainty that life will never be the same again remains. A new normal introduces itself and we must now navigate through a myriad of emotions and jumbled thoughts as we re-orient ourselves to our daily life.
However, we can choose what we focus on. What we watch on TV, or pay money to watch in a movie theater those scenes will affect our emotions and reinforce our beliefs or fears. Whatever we entertain in our thoughts will determine what approach we take to our past experiences and what path our future mental, emotional, and physical health will take.
… whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.”
Just as fire lights the fuse and the firework shoots towards heaven and explodes, then scatters the sparkling colors with a loud announcement of it’s power, so do life changing moments announce themselves into our live. What meanings we put to these events will determine the journey that we take. We can heal through it … or be scarred from it.
If we get too close to the event and embrace it while the fire burns, we’ll be scarred for life. But if we release the pain, observe it and give it its release it will impact us in a healthier way.
We have the choice to become bitter or better. To continue in grief or to grow and celebrate all that was good.
There are different stages that each of us move through too. Understanding this in regards to the grief that someone else is dealing with is something that must be understood. Their choices are their own. They cannot be helped until they ask for help.
When a person in grief encounters someone who, no matter how lovingly, says, “You need to let go. Release this.” They only hear, “Your grief and pain don’t matter. It’s not important.”
Until a person asks for help, you can only stand by and observe. To get too close to that fire will cause scarring and pain.
I miss my Dad terribly. In the beginning, I never knew when the waves of grief would overtake me, and more than once I had to pull over to the side of the road and just cry it out.
Now, I have chosen to be thankful and grateful whenever I think of him. I choose to remember his presence in my life and our life together. He left me with some great moments, funny stories and deep, philosophical thoughts. Those moments will sparkle forever, not only in myself, but in my children and grandchildren as these memories are passed on.
Just as the firework explodes in the heavens and then fades away, so the agony and intensity of that fiery trial passed away. The memory hasn’t, and now my Mother is no longer with us either. Many other challenging and painful trials have come and gone since that day. But like the trial before it, it has passed.
None of us will escape these difficult trials, but all of us have the gift of choice in how we will navigate through them. Instead of hugging the fire and scarring yourself further, stand back and wonder at the gift that was given and that will continue to give until you too pass from this place.
Make no mistake … I could not have written about that night before now. For me, it’s taken a couple of decades to wade through that event and a few others, and to learn how to make better choices on what I think about and dwell on. The key is to never give up … this too will pass.