Thursday, August 7, 2014

Grief: The torrential downpour, the grey clouds, & the patch of blue skies

Blessed are those who mourn,  for they will be comforted.
Matthew 5:4 (NIV)

 The two months of living without my mother has come and gone. I keep waiting for that phone call as my mind is still in a state of disbelief, but the more that time passes the more I feel the permanency of her absence. I spent the July 4th weekend at my parents lake house and watched my kids enjoy themselves thoroughly. It was wonderful and it hurt all in the same breath. It hurt because the thing my mother enjoyed most was the lake. In recent years, she had finally convinced my dad to add on to the house so that there was space for all the grandchildren. I had not yet taken the twins out there until this past weekend and I felt both mad at myself and mad at the world that my mom never got to see all 5 grandchildren up there together at the same time. Yet, I also felt like we were honoring her by fulfilling her wish.'s such a bizarre emotion.

It's always hard to know what to say when someone asks "how are you doing?" Before I go off on a tangent, let me say that I'd rather someone at least ask than to say nothing at all to me. Don't be afraid to ask the bereaved how they are doing...don't be afraid of saying something "dumb". Asking how the bereaved are doing is a totally fine question to ask...the only thing is that that question is multifaceted; it is an ever changing emotion from one second to the next. It's not "one day at a time" for's still "one hour at a time". So my response totally varies throughout the day. Overall how am I doing? I'm just going to be honest...I feel broken. I feel sad all day every day. Some days are worse than others, but every day is still hard.

I am sure grief looks different for everyone depending on the circumstances. Although my mother had been sick, her death was very unexpected and very quick. It was not tragic in the sense of an instant car crash death, but it was tragic in that it caught us off guard those last few days. We didn't know that was how it would end until 48 hours before she passed away. Every day between 2 and 3pm, I really struggle because those were the moments of her last breaths and the images are still so vivid in my mind. After seeing my grandfather this weekend (this is my mother's father), who is 94 years old and just lost his wife 2 months prior to my mom's death, I almost felt like my grief intensified a little. Hearing him say that he "begged God not to take his daughter, but to take him instead."...y' just shattered the little bit of heart I had left into a million pieces. Parents shouldn't have to bury their children no matter how old that child is.

It's all still really, really raw.

As we were traveling the month of July, we at one point were driving in some really terrible weather. It was an absolute torrential downpour...the kind of rain where you cannot see at all, but you can't pull over just have to very, very slowly and prayerfully move ahead. And I got to thinking that that is very much what these early stages of grief are like. I can't speak for all, but my couple of friends who have lost a parent at a young(ish) age I'm sure would agree. You can't pull have to keep moving. But it is so hard and you can't see ahead, but you are trusting that God will get you through. You are scared and anxious, but you can feel every once in awhile this overwhelming peace from the Lord reminding you that His hands are on the steering wheel with you...that He is going to help you.

And eventually as you are driving, the rain slows. You can see again, but there are still these sudden bursts of rain that slow you down. These are the months after some of the shock has worn off. You know eventually you'll see blue skies again and you are keeping your eyes peeled for those patches of blue skies, but you're still driving in the rain. This is where I am folks.

I've survived the torrential downpour, but I'm still driving in grey skies that are trickling rain...and some days there are those quick bursts of heavy rain that come out of nowhere. It's those moments where you feel like you regressed in your grief, but you haven't. It's just that something special has happened that my mother didn't get to be a part of and that pain is really sharp. But the rain is still there...I still cry still hurts way more than I can ever really even begin to explain.

I have faith that with my grief that I will eventually see the blue skies again. I know that there will always be rainy days for the rest of my life. That will never stop. But, I am on my knees daily asking for God to help me see the blue skies. I know I will. I know because I know that God is still good. I'm just not there yet. I still get up and shower and do my best to care for my little ones. I still get out of the house some...I don't enjoy it much...but, I do it. I still laugh and smile. Those times that you laugh and forget your pain for a moment...they are so precious.

But the physical ache is still there. The grey skies. The dark cloud that you just can't seem to quite get through. I feel like I am failing my kids miserably. I lost my biggest cheerleader. My mom, no matter how rotten my children might be behaving, she ALWAYS told me I was an awesome mom. She was such an encourager. She told me many times over the past few years that there was no way she could parent children so close in age the way I have and that she was so proud of the mother I had become. She NEVER criticized my parenting.

But my cheerleader is gone and I feel a little...lost. And I know my grief affects my kids and I hate that. I just pray every day that they will one day understand and that they will forgive me for my short temper.

I know that there are blue skies ahead. I sat and watched the ocean waves roll back in and out this summer and my heart did very much the same. I sat and watched Ella and Jacob play in the waves, while Audrey stood behind me singing and playing with my hair. Her song:

"And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine"

I'm sure in her mind, she was just singing a song about the ocean that she has heard many times. But for me, it was a reminder of the day I played that song for my mother while she was dying.  And I know God was using that little girl to sing truth back into my heart. That He is right here. And that my mother is right there with Him.

Grief is like the weather. It's very unpredictable and it is always changing. You are never done grieving from what I've heard from the few who have walked this road ahead of me. But I know I serve a God who is near to the brokenhearted. A friend reminded me that death was never part of God's plan. I had not really thought about that until she said that and it brought me great comfort. Death grieved our Father...that is why He sent his overcome it.

And that my friend's isn't the blue skies...that's the rainbow.

"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds". Psalm 147:3

I pray too that you will forgive me for not being a good friend. God has a million shattered pieces to sew back together and it's going to take a long time. I miss her so very, very much. Thank you for loving me despite my messy life. 

He is still so good...even in the rain.


Nicole McDonnell said...

Oh Sarah, I may only know you through the social media world but my heart aches for you. I am crying because I cannot imagine losing my mother and I can not even begin to know all that you are feeling. I am praying for you and trusting God will comfort. I like to believe that your mother can see you from heaven and I not only believe but I know that she is still your greatest cheerleader. Sending hugs your way.

Camille said...

Your Mama is so beautiful, Sarah. How precious it is to know that she is safely Home. Each day you are closer to being taken Home as well. Your Mama still lives...just not here. Praying for you today. Hugs, Camille