Fall is usually a darn good time of year for me thanks to celebrating many family and friends’ birthdays. (Oh yeah, including mine!) They’re mostly all “happy” birthdays—until you start adding all those ages together and think: “Wow, that’s a lot of years!” I do realize our only hope as a civilization is that as some of these treasured folks get older, that a few of us (or “them”) also get wiser!
But this year is different because of the recent passing of my wonderful mom. My transition from a loved child into an orphaned adult has created a significant downturn in brain functioning. This year, my usual sense of celebration includes both happy memories and sad reflection. “Sad” seems like too small of a word to describe the feeling of a great loss. But sometimes a small word works. (As one of my high school pals once said: “What’s all the fuss about 4-letter words? S-E-X is a 3-letter word and causes most of the trouble.”)
I have—and have always had—great supportive people in my life. While it’s still possible to make the wrong decision even with access to best experience and insight, I lucked out and didn’t make any irreversible wrong turns that could have seen me t-boned on the highway of life. I am grateful for those around me for sharing reminders like “we all will grieve at different speeds,” and “the stages of grief will be in different orders,” and “we all have different schedules for our grief to become manageable.” Thoughts like these shared by caring relatives and friends have made my time in this “post-parental daze zone” easier. Grief is not as I would wish, it is not a simple math of existence, but rather it is the calculus of the uncomfortable aspects of life.
I came across these words on social media and they aligned with what so many have said so helpfully:
Grief is not a linear process. Grief often creeps up on you and whispers,
I’m still here. Don’t forget about me. Acknowledge me. I am the pain of your love.
We would do well to remember that grief is the expression of pain and love that arises in response to any form of loss…and in a sense, most people are in a state of grief of one form or another throughout their lives.
Coming to terms with this reality is the work of life, and the act of doing so is a process of incredible bravery.
When I read this, I didn’t realize he was talking about the universal grief of loss, and not just the grief involving death. It reached out and grabbed me, exactly when I was feeling it.
I hope you have nothing but good times ahead during these cooler months, but if there’s a moment (or day or week) that’s filled with the short but powerful word “sad,” take solace in the fact that we all grieve, and you aren’t alone, and that this thought of sharing the human experience is a measure of comfort close to what I was allowed to find.