Acquainted With Grief

Yesterday I had a horrible, no good, very bad day.

My oldest had decided to fight an epic battle of the wills with regards to his willingness to attend school. My youngest has had diaper rash so bad that I think it has scarred him emotionally and causes him to kick and scream like a maniac, making me the target of his fury. My middle had a field trip that shortened his three hour school day by over an hour. My husband had a 730 morning meeting so I was solo. And it was snowing. It is April.

To use the extra hour, went to Starbucks again. Because those little cups are so adorable, I don’t care if the kids are covered in chocolate for the rest of the day. And then I cried on the phone to my mom. I cried on the phone to my friend. I cried when I randomly bumped into a friend.

Some of those issues were worthy of some tears. But here’s what was really bothering me. A year ago, I was losing a friend to cancer. And this year, in the same month, I’m preparing to help direct a staged reading of a show entitled “Starting Monday,” on Monday April 18th. The show is a beautiful, hard, deep, long look at a friend walking through losing her friend to cancer. I can’t make it through the script without weeping. I can’t make it through this sentence without weeping. When I was asked to help with this “Starting Monday” project, I knew it was for me. I think it is hugely important. And it is also extremely difficult. Death is so hard. Even as someone who believes in life ever death, it’s just… It’s heavy. And dark. And personal.

My friend who died last year had not even been in my life for that long, comparatively. But you know how I roll. Fast moving and deep friendships are my jam. You’ll know my whole life story on our first visit. And I’ll keep pestering you until you share yours soon enough. I adored Nicole. She was easy to adore. And I miss her.

Here’s something that I ponder. Our culture isn’t great at dealing with death. Some cultures are, I think, better at this. They allow grief to take its natural course, whereas I think some Americans like to make grief tidy. We like to make the grief process fit a model with five neat steps, on our timeline, and we dislike anything that seems abnormal. We dislike feeling a fresh wave of grief when we think we shouldn’t.

So I realized that much of my trouble yesterday stemmed from the fact that I was experiencing a fresh wave of grief for my friend. I acknowledged it. I felt it. I couldn’t fix it, so I shouldered through, not very gracefully. We muscled through bedtime and zoned out with silly tv and wine. Super productive grieving? Nope. It just is what it is, people.

I can’t really say that I have the answers here. There is no way to patch it up and make it look pretty and spiritual. If nothing else, for me, Jesus is in the midst of the uncomfortably long and sometimes surprising process of grieving loved ones, because he was “a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief.” And today that’s enough.

(I miss you Nicole. Thank you for all the ways you continue to impact me today.)

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