Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The Second Wave

I was warned about this - the return of grief that would come on with a vengeance about 6 months after Dad's death. I suppose, when I look back, it didn't surprise me. There have been warning signs the last few weeks - a bout with influenza and a subsequent virus attacking a suppressed immune system, I've been wearing my long hair up in a makeshift bun more days than not because I don't have the energy to anything else, the return of a dread of mornings that make it nearly impossible to get out of bed. Today, it seems like every song I hear is somehow related to Dad or memories of our shared times together. The oppressive weight of apathy has once again found its home in the core of my body and spirit. I just want to hide away from the world. The tears well up far too easily.

After all this time, I still find myself preparing to call him to share exciting news or the day's challenges. I still find myself stunned by the reality that he is gone. I catch myself going through the motions much more than I'd like. I feel like there's a rock attached to my chest. Grief, in a word, sucks.

In some ways, the grief is harder this time. The initial fog of the early days has lifted and now the weight of Dad's death is more evident, more stark, more real. It certainly doesn't help that family tied up with Dad's trust continues to disappoint, sadden and frustrate me as they make decision one could only understand as selfish greed. There really is no other feasible explanation. My heart breaks on Dad's behalf as I stand by while they squander and misappropriate his money and the business around which he defined himself for many years. The situation makes me sick to my stomach.

I look around the Cute Gray House that he was supposed to come help fix up this Spring. At times, I catch myself throwing my grief-related anger toward the house that Dad will never see and never grace with his creative ideas. I'll never hear him comment as he walks through the house amazed by all there is to do to it. I'll never share a paintbrush or power tool with him as he explains procedural things I really don't care about so long as the house is fixed up.

When Dad was around, there were whole categories (e.g., wills, business plans, house repairs, cars) that I didn't even have to think or know about. I could just call him and he'd swell with fatherly pride at having been asked to share his wisdom and insights. Sometimes, it used to drive me nuts because, in his book, there was usually only one right way to do something. Now, I miss it desperately.

Easter was an interesting experience this year. Quite frankly, I didn't feel much like proclaiming life as my blackened heart continued to sink deeper and deeper into pain and sadness. It was difficult to put together a sermon and the Holy Week services looked similar to the ones of 2007. I didn't have energy to do otherwise. Once again, though, the Holy Spirit wove into the experience and I was surprised to hear words come out of my mouth that I myself needed to hear: words of "We are so ridden with grief that we forget our calling," and "your fear is not gone but it no longer holds you back...you can go on despite the suffering, you can take the next step because you are not alone." I was astonished to receive a lovely letter from a visitor who was here at Easter. The sermon, she said, was meaningful and inspirational. She even called the service "joyful" - have I become that proficient of an actress?

This second wave of grief seems threatening, ready to swallow me up once again and pull me down in its undertow. I know with certainty that lifeguards (aka friends, colleagues) are all around and, for that, I'm thankful. They may not take the pain away but they certainly keep the undertow from winning.


Kristin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rev Scott said...

I don't know you that well, but it seems to me that Easter hope is better proclaimed by someone who has (or is) walking through darkness and clinging to the light of Christ. Happy Easter sermons from people who've got it all figured out just don't cut it, in my book.

You'll be in my prayers as you continue to grieve.

Andrea said...

Well, you know what they say about ocean safety and not getting worn out by the undertow ... swim sideways ... eventually you'll get to a calmer current. I think the same can apply here. Swim sideways. Let the grief be what it is - painful, depressing, oppressive. You're dealing with it as best you can, and not fighting it too much is, in the end, a good thing. (Much better than ignoring it or other unhealthy coping strategies.) In time, you will emerge in a new place, and the current will let you go for awhile. Yes, the grief undertow will return, but in different ways and you'll deal with those in time.

We just passed the 6th anniversary of my dad's death and not too long ago I stood in a hardware store, looking at a whole aisle of bolts/nuts/screws/washers looking for something to use in a repair, thinking, "Dad would have been able to figure this out in 2 seconds flat." I can't help but ennumerate the things he's missed (my discernment, Wartburg, meeting Ronald, my wedding, my relocation to MN, retirement w/ Mom) and those are huge holes. But somehow we make it through and time has helped me to begin from gratitude when I think of him, instead of devastating grief.

I pray that some peace and calmer current will come to you. And I thank God that your own experience is being used by the Holy Spirit in your ministry. Hang in there.

T said...

What can I say my friend? I know this is a difficult time for you! I wish I lived closer to you so that I could give you a shoulder to cry on etc. Know that Im always just a phone call or email away. I know grief can be so hard. My friend, may God be with you during this difficult time! Miss you tons! God bless!