You shouldn’t be grieving anymore.
I’ve been telling myself that a lot in the bathroom mirror lately.
And some well-to-do people have told me that in their eyes lately when they ask me if I’ve been feeling better and I suddenly feel obligated to say yes, I’m doing just fine.
Grieving is a lonely business–especially when enough time passes to convince everyone around you that time has healed the wounds. I’ve never faced it before–not like this.
My Dad has been gone almost three months now. If you’re new to my blog–my Dad died of cancer in December, and it still feels like it just happened last night. I know that doesn’t seem long at all as I sit here and type this, but there’s an unseen push to just “be better, darn it”. The sting of the first shock has worn off for those around me. I don’t visibly wear the death in my eyes anymore. I don’t put my head down at my desk or file for bereavement time or look toward the date on the calendar that’s set for a funeral. It’s done. Everything is done.
Except for the pain.
Maybe you’re at that stage too–months, maybe years, after someone you love leaves your life because of death or divorce or time in the service. And a world that once stood still to honor the “much understood” tears is now in full motion again, expecting you to be alright. YOU expect you to be alright. But in some ways it feels like it’s getting worse and worse and you’re more and more alone in the pain that you’re no longer allowed to constantly share.
At least that’s how it feels for me.
It’s scary to put my thoughts–vulnerable thoughts, at that–out there on the line. But I started this blog with the intention of sharing every part of this journey we call life. And this is an ugly part of it.
Time doesn’t heal all wounds, I’ve realized. Time just changes them.
Time transforms how you have to deal with the wounds. Time makes it easier to wait to cry until you get in the car. Time gives you some “good days” where you can better turn toward positive things or enjoy a good time or distract yourself with work or church activities. Time makes it easier to get dressed in the morning and put on makeup without having to re-apply the mascara three times. But time doesn’t heal it.
There was comfort almost in knowing that everyone knew at the same time that I was grieving my Dad. There was a subtle comfort in the sympathy cards that came in stacks in the mail and the phone calls and text messages. I didn’t think so at the time, but now, as the cards stop and the calls stop and the nights become a little quieter–pain becomes more raw because there was a comfort in knowing that everyone knew. People had their minds on my Dad.
Last night on my way home from work I flipped on the song that Dad dedicated to me and my family before he died. In the song (Compass by Lady Antebellum) there’s a line that says, “When it’s all said and done, you can walk instead of run. Because no matter what you’ll never be alone.”
And just like that, I decided that walking is best for me.
And I have to stop trying to run to the finish line. Because at this point, I don’t even know if there is a finish line to this.
But how do you walk? How do you give yourself the mercy and the grace to say, “You know what, I’m still not ok. And that’s ok.”
I turned to my scriptures for help, just like I had when my Dad took his last breath. And I subconsciously turned to Gethsemane. Because right now, that’s where I’m sitting. My friends who surround me seem to be fast asleep at times–there with me and good-hearted, but unknowing. And in the darkness I’m on my knees with the Lord.
And the first thing I read was John 17:9 when Jesus, completely and utterly alone and bearing the pains of every single broken heart that would ever be, began a prayer that included, “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me, for they are thine.”
(Painting by Liz Lemon Swindle)
In those moments in the garden–moments where the Savior faced the beginning of the most unimaginable pain to ever be felt within the earth’s history–he decided to pray for you. He decided to pray for me. His disciples. He didn’t just feel the pains of grief right when it strikes. He felt the dull ache of grief after months and years pass–the ache that gets locked away and festers in a lonely heart. He felt, in the moment, how it feels to wake up from a dream where they’re alive again–only to lay very still while looking at the ceiling and realizing that it wasn’t real. He felt it all– and in that moment he prayed.
This isn’t a pity party. It’s not a call for extra visits or more sympathy cards. I just have a feeling that I’m not alone in the stage of grief that isn’t openly talked about merely because of the stigma that things should get better within a set amount of time or “you have a problem”. I have a feeling I’m not the only one who wonders why “time” hasn’t held up his end of the deal. And I’m pretty positive that I’m not the only one out there trying to be the “strong one”, only to beat myself up when that doesn’t work out as planned.
But I’m trying to remind myself of the simple truth that the Savior of the world went on his knees for me. In lonely darkness he pleaded for my heart to be healed. And in a way no one else will ever understand…he understands.
Time doesn’t heal all wounds, I’ve come to figure out. You will too, if you haven’t already.
But I’m glad to know who does.