I am trying just about everything I can to keep walking through this grief with grace. I just finished my second meeting in a grief group and to be honest this "group" (or any group for that matter) is something no part of me wants to do. If I'm being really honest, the first meeting I walked in (just inside the doors) and then turned around and walked back out to my car. I got in my car, put the keys in the ignition, and then made myself walk back in. Walking into a place where you know you are going to face things you are trying to avoid is not going to be #1 on anyone's list. And not only that but I am just not so sure anyone I talk to will understand or will care what happened to us, or more importantly what happened to Charlie. Each and every person in that room has their own unique grief story and while it should make me feel less lonely, I'm not so sure it is working.
Tonight we listened as the various phases of grief were described. For about 20-30 minutes we listen and take what we can from the person speaking from their own place in the journey. As I listened I realized I can only really remember one phase. Which later made me realize, maybe I have only walked completely through that one phase.
I remember feeling numb, like I was living a nightmare. I was out of body for several days watching myself do things that I never thought I would ever have to do. As I learned more about that phase tonight I found myself thanking God for how he designed us to react. We need that mechanism that forces "shock" when facing grief. I know now it's how I made it through Charlie's funeral. It is how I stood in line and let all those people walk by me and say they were "sorry for our loss." I actually remember someone saying, "It's okay to cry. It's okay to be sad." I kind of blinked back tears and just said, "I know." I was. I was so sad I was actually in shock and tears didn't really come out. I would not have made it through that day or the days prior as I planned his funeral if I was in the next phase of "realization." That phase that creeps in immediately following shock is relentless. I think I am still there. I am trying to accept that Charlie isn't coming back; he won't return. There is a wide range of emotions that you feel in this phase and the pain is intense. There is a physical pain that comes with grief. I get that now. I feel it.
So this brings me to my next thought. Grief is complicated and after "shock" I believe it is a mix of the other phases and emotions that consume you until you find the end (which I am still not certain exists). So why is it people are always present and willing to help when something bad first happens? They visit, they call, they send cards, they pray over you, they drop off dinners; they can't get enough of you. Then as soon as it has been long enough for them to forget about your loss or your grief they literally lose the ability to show grace. Not only do the meals, cards, and hugs cease to exist some people also seem to forget what it means to be just be kind. The life of someone grieving has changed. They made need grace and love and a thoughtful card every so often for years to come. Actually once the "shock" phase is over those of us grieving will definitely need something even more than we did at the time everyone thought they should be there to hold us up. It's the day to day now that feels impossible. The realization that things will never be the same is impossible to live with without people. If you are reading this and don't know what to do to help someone you know that is grieving, just be there. Sit with them, love them through their grief, whatever that looks like on them.