Peace by piece. I think, say and hashtag (if I’m being honest) this phrase fairly often. My road to peace hasn’t come without its ups and downs but we all have our own obstacles to peace. Grief has certainly been a roadblock to peace for me. I lost the Ross to my Rachel nearly two years ago. He was 34, I was 30, he had cancer. I hate saying that.
I’ve built what I thought was peace more times than I care to count, only to have it torn down by something trivial. Nothing makes you realize you haven’t “found peace” quite like coming completely unglued over the smallest inconvenience. That’s a harsh realization, that you’re farther away than you thought from peace. You take a step forward only to be slammed a few steps back.
I didn’t realize grief could look so much like anger. I’ve journaled as a way to try and combat my grief. When I look back on my writings, I realize how inconsistent my feelings really were. What would bring me peace one day, would make me angry the next. I couldn’t get to the bottom of my grief.
Grief has surprised me, I wasn’t prepared for the anger. Angry at the doctors, angry at myself, angry at this horrible disease, angry at others for being absent in Luke’s treatment but very present in his passing, and angry at people who were just happy when I couldn’t be. How are you happy? How are we all just moving on? We can’t just move on!
I’m angry at how I’ve been treated by some. Insert sarcasm here; “I am terribly sorry my grief makes YOU sad, makes YOU feel uncomfortable. I’m sorry you would rather exclude me then deal with me and my grief. I’m sorry I’m not over it. I’m sorry I’m still sad.”
I’ve even been angry with Luke, angry at God…and on top of all this anger, guilt. Guilt all day long. How could I be angry at others who lost Luke? They loved him too. We all lost him, right? We’re all grieving? Nope. Still angry. Angry at Luke? How could I be? After everything he’d been through. And angry at God? Have I lost my mind?
Mostly I’ve been angry at myself. Every second of everyday. I wasn’t there when he died. He was sick but not dying. He wasn’t going to die! I would never allow myself to believe this horrible disease might actually take his life. Let me be clear, I cried over this thought, I thought this thought, and I was afraid he would die but things like that didn’t happen to me and wouldn’t happen to him. My heart could never comprehend a loss like that, could never believe it or make it real. My heart is still trying understand.
As I look at my grief journal today, my writings from a year ago, tears are streaming down my face. I am not there anymore. Maybe I’m actually healing some.
I don’t remember writing “You are NOT broken!” Even though, at the time, I’m sure I was. I don’t remember writing this message to Luke “You’re free and now it’s my turn”. How trapped I must have felt. I read these entries and I just feel sorry for this girl who was drowning in her own grief. I know this girl was me but I am not her anymore.
My tears today are happy and sad. There is a great sense of relief in seeing how far I’ve come. As I sit here this morning, listening to the sounds of my life, I feel peace. My life could change tomorrow. What I have today might not be mine tomorrow, but in this moment, I love my life. I am happy and I feel peace.
Knowing loss can happen to you, comes with a reality. I live with a dull ache, a constant worry that something bad will happen but this also comes with a rare form of appreciation. I’m soaking in every detail of this morning, the sounds, the smells, this feeling. I find myself doing this often.
Moving on is difficult, but necessary. I have fought it kicking and screaming. I really didn’t know how to let go and to be honest I didn’t want to. Holding onto my grief was holding on to Luke. If I stopped feeling constant pain, I stopped loving him, I would lose him again or more somehow, my pain kept him present. I thought letting go meant forgetting, I thought it meant moving on but I’ve learned there is a difference between moving on and moving forward.
Loving someone, losing them and then being forced back into life with the expectation to somehow be happy again is still an idea I struggle with. I just don’t like it. I never will but there is grace in letting go. Peace by piece.
I know I have no choice but to keep going. “Keep looking up” as Luke’s Mom would always tell me. Only now am I starting to be okay with my own happiness. I think I’ll always have a little mad/sad in me but I’m making more room for love.
Experiencing grief takes you down a painful path, you lose pieces of yourself, some you get back, others you don’t. There is no coming out on the “other side” because once you really experience grief, your path, your direction changes entirely and you’re just not going that way anymore.
Peace isn’t something I’m going to achieve and then hold onto. I have to fight for it everyday. Peace by piece.
Today’s entry: “You’re happy and that’s okay.”