grief. step 1.

Grief

/noun

1. keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret.

2. a cause or occasion of keen distress or sorrow.

3. deep or intense sorrow or distress, esp at the death of someone

Synonyms –  anguish, heartache, woe, misery; sadness, melancholy, moroseness. See sorrow.

Antonyms –  joy.

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Jenna died on April 11th. I was in shock when I found out, then I cried at the funeral, then I came back to Glendora and life hasn’t given me much time to devote to grief. About a month and a half ago, I posted a blog about her, figuring the two weeks had passed and I had processed and though I would always miss her, I could get back to life and just carry on her memory.

Boy, was I ever wrong.

Almost two months later, I have come to begin to see what grief is really all about. Thanks to two awesome counselors I’m lucky enough to have in my life, I have been learning that this process is only beginning. Thursday was the first time I really saw what it means for her death to “set in” and I don’t like it one bit.

I.HATE.PROCESSES.

I am a goal-and-results kind of person, I like to make lists and check things off. I like order and neatness and success. I do NOT like cycles and stages and unpredictability. I don’t like subconscious pain and I don’t like pain that can’t be neatly packaged and controlled. And so, for the last two months, I’ve been hiding from the reality that one of my best friends is gone.

My counselor, Pat, made me say the following. Out loud.

“Jenna died on June 11th, 2011. She’s dead. She’s not coming back.”

And when I could barely choke out those words through my sobs, I realized that maybe I hadn’t come to terms with this whole grief process the way I thought I had.

My friend Dena wrote this blog (wednesday’s wayward child) about sitting, and it blew me away. in it, she writes about this “aversion to passivity” that we both share, and how it truly stems from a place of great fear:

“Fear, that I’ll lose control—so by “doing” or “moving,” I will somehow regain it. Fear, that I’m not enough—so by “doing” or “moving,” I will always be striving for more. Fear, that somehow God’s promises of love and goodness won’t extend to me—so by “doing” or “moving,” I will have something else to fill that void…just in case. In light of these fears, it’s no wonder I hate sitting. Sitting causes me to face these fears head on, to dwell in the midst of them, and then allow God to show up. In sitting, I cannot act preemptively, trying to manipulate the situation so as to make it more palatable. Nope. I must sit and trust. Teetering the line between faith and fear.”

And here, in this description of sitting, one concept I avoid so often, I find the realization that I have been hiding from grief because I’m afraid that if I sit in it, it will swallow me whole. I’m afraid that I will take that step into the huge emotions of loss and pain and sadness, and that the perfectly-crafted façade that is my outer appearance and reputation will crumble when I finally face something that I actually can’t overcome just by “putting my mind to it” or “doing my best”.

Unfortunately, I have no answer, no conclusion to provide. Only a decision that as I begin today, filling out worksheets and writing in my counselor-provided journal, struggling with words and phrases about death that surely only God can understand, that I will sit. I will sit with this pain and let my Heavenly Father hold my hand as I begin the process of accepting loss and all the implications that loss has on my life. I don’t know what emotions tomorrow will bring, but I will come out stronger for facing this journey, and I have faith to know I never walk it alone.

To be continued……

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