The first reaction to the death of a loved one is shock. This is part of God’s protection. He insulates us from the full impact of death. We may be aware of what is happening around us yet protected from the deep reality of death. We may actually experience physical numbness.
As time goes on the reality of death begins to penetrate yet a part of us has not yet comprehended that the loved one is gone. We listen for the car in the driveway, still count out five snacks, or reach for the phone to call before we catch ourselves and the shock of their death hits us again. Our life becomes a long, dark winter’s night.
Everything hurts. It hurts to breath, it hurts to eat, it hurts to go to bed, it hurts to wake up, it hurts to think, your head hurts, your heart hurts. We are deeply wounded. The pain is physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. Mixed with the pain is guilt, anger, fear and a host of other feelings. We cry and cry and cry and cry ...
Life goes on but do I really care? Is there any reason to live? We have more questions than answers. We question everything we ever believed, examining our belief in God and in life itself in light of what we are experiencing. We are still struggling with anger and guilt. Life is a burden, we are tired of grieving but there is no escape. We are weary. We wake up as tired as we went to bed. We want to sleep all the time or insomnia stalks us. We are jealous of our friends who have normal lives. We feel old, beaten, trapped, hopeless, cold, and lonely. Self-pity lives with us day and night.
In time, if we allow ourselves to heal, we learn how to live again. We find a new reality in our lives that we can live with. We move beyond our daily grief, it is no longer the focal point of our lives. We’ve found acceptable answers to some of our questions. We are forever changed. The burden of our grief is still with us but we have learned to carry it. Our loved ones are still gone, we still miss them and it still hurts but we have sweet memories, our love for them remains. We find joy and light and life is good again.
Pat Aho 2001 April 5
It seems quite short when I put it on paper like this but it was a long process. Yes, it was a very long dark cold winter that started in mid-summer but at long last Spring did arrive with all its warmth, color and new life. Yes, I still have winter moments and even days with a chill in the air but I live in the light. Glory Hallelujah! I live in the Light.