Continuing to reminisce about how life was two years ago when Micah went missing. This is what I learned about grief.
Having my son missing for almost a month now has been the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through. I think the next closest was having my daughter in Sri Lanka after the Tsunami in a very dangerous situation, but at least then there was contact.
In the counseling world they say that the person who won’t speak has the most power. I understand that in a new way now. Micah, for whatever reason, has chosen to keep us out of the loop of his grand adventure and the silence, as they say, “is deafening.”
So, I’m learning a lot about grief, and I thought I’d write it down so when Micah is older and has children of his own, and those kids do something really scary, I can send him a copy of this. That’s a parental prerogative right, to say, “Touché!”
1. Grief comes in waves: I knew this from when my dad died and I had to switch to waterproof mascara because I never knew when I’d be crying. Thankfully I gave up mascara altogether during Micah’s first deployment to Afghanistan. The grief now is always just below the surface. I’m not a good faker so when some poor innocent folks say, “how are you?” they tend to get more than they bargained for.
2. It is really hard, nearly impossible, not to let your mind go to the dark side. Focusing on the negative possibilities has been overwhelming. The list of bad things that could be happening to my son is unending. These thoughts can suck you down into the “depths of despair” as Anne of Green Gables would say.
3. Sometimes, I can get my eyes off the waves and onto Jesus. These are the good days when I remember that the name Micah means “There is no one like God.” I remember he was named after the prophet of Justice. Just because he’s trying to work out his heart for justice in a way that will harm him, doesn’t mean God can’t use this to build him into the man he was created to be.
4. I can swing from the above #2 to #3 and back to #2 in a heartbeat. Pity the fool who gets in my way. Some days I wake up mad and just can’t shake it. Some days I wake up sad and can’t shake that either. You know the “stages of grief?” Yeah, I’ve met them all, except acceptance. I only flirt with that one from a distance.
5. Hope springs eternal. My husband and I clutch our phones with manic fever awaiting good news.
6. Life happens; we are expected to do our jobs in the midst of this pain. This is both a blessing, as it gets our minds off our current troubles and a curse as we feel we are unable to give 100% to our jobs. We have other children that need our attention, time and love. We have family and friends that are hurting too. We try to stay present. Sometimes things fall by the wayside. When tragedy strikes we tend to pull inward into a protective shell. Friends get shut out. Social obligations get neglected. It happens. Hopefully there is grace.
7. Sleep is elusive for those who grieve. I have trouble going to sleep. I’m exhausted all the time, but when I get in bed I’m either overwhelmed with sadness or my mind starts circling the ‘what ifs.’ That is why I’m writing this blog at 12:38am. David goes to sleep okay, but never makes it through the night. He wakes up startled, heart pounding as if there were an emergency. And there is; only it’s one we have no control over.
8. We must work hard to treat each other with kindness. David and I are working overtime to love each other well during this season of grief. I clean the house, he cleans the house. We hold each other and cry. We pray. When I’m angry he doesn’t take it personally. Having a partner in grief is really helpful.
9. Having the presence of God and a supportive community is really amazing during this time. We have been buoyed by the love and support we feel from our friends right now. I honestly cannot imagine doing this alone. My friend Bob has been searching the Bible for universal promises. So far he’s found only four. Two of them are: We will suffer and God will be with us. I’m sure glad those two go together.
10. God gives us emotional “manna,” right when we need it. He’s given us letters, songs, movies, phone calls, rainbows, pictures on websites of Micah and even a video. These little encouragements have been enough to keep us trusting Him when we would otherwise give up. The picture above is from the occupy rally in D.C. this week. He is in the green shirt. Yep, that’s my boy.
These are some of the things I’ve observed about grief so far. I’ll keep you posted. Are there any observations about grief you want to add?