Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Life Gets in the Way of Mourning

Life Gets in the Way of Mourning
Days Pass By in What Once
Was a Long, Sad Month
October 14, 2014

Loss never ends, but we still must wash the dishes.
Life gets in the way of mourning.
October once was my longest, saddest month. On October 1, I wrote about the challenges we face during anniversary days, weeks, and months that mark extreme loss—or any intense, emotional life events. My child spent her last days on Earth in October of 1986. Remembering that time affected not only October, but much of life since my seven-year-old Alexa died.
Because such anniversaries are difficult, I decided to focus on healing this October in hopes of furthering the healing of others—not only those who have lost a child, but also those who have lost anyone they loved.

Loss comes to all of us, but we still can experience beauty and joy.
Life gets in the way of mourning.
In the 28 years since Alexa died, the face of my mourning has changed, as well it should. Early on, when dealing with profound loss, our hearts are tender; grief—day in and out—wears on us. Our nerve endings are sensitive. On this day, October 14, 2014, I have tender spots, scars that mark those places of fragility, but they are not apparent to others—and even I sometimes am unaware of them. Fourteen days into what once was a month of mourning, I note that I am not mourning. I think of Alexa several times as day, as I do all my children, but the raw spots have healed as much as they probably ever will. Life gets in the way of mourning with the passage of time. That’s a good thing.
In some ways, I liken early mourning to an illness that is virulent, all-encompassing in its early phases. As a young adult, I had hepatitis. My liver isn’t damaged and I made a complete recovery. However, a blood test will reveal that I had the disease. I cannot donate blood or organs. I’m not sick, but it’s there.
I’m not actively mourning most days, but the pain of loss is there. Like the hepatitis marker in my blood, the pain of child death is a marker in my heart. I don’t often think of the hepatitis, except when a too-persistent blood drive volunteer tries to badger me into giving. I say, “You don’t want my blood.” I can also say, “You don’t want this low-level ache in my heart.”
Like the minute quantities of virus in my blood, I’m grateful that my mourning has reached a level where, for the most part, I live without deep grief, as I live without liver disease.
I’m also grateful, these 28 years later, that I’m not crippled with grief. I’m grateful that life gets in the way of mourning—that most of my days are filled with the ordinariness of life—work, dishes, laundry, carpet cleaning, gardening.

Loss comes to all of us but we still must do the laundry.
Life gets in the way of mourning.
Early on, when suffering extreme loss, mourning gets in the way of life. Those of us who have reached the phase in which life gets in the way of mourning have a responsibility to other mourners. My responsibility is lending an ear, lending time, lending heart to those currently living the deepest days of mourning. By doing so, I show gratitude for the child who gave so much love during her short life. It’s my turn to help those who are hurting get to the point in their lives that life gets in the way of mourning.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 

Grief has no time table. However, deep daily grieving several months after a loss might indicate a need for help stepping toward life. Please consult a trained counselor, spiritual advisor, or bereavement group if you need such help. Google bereavement or grief counseling for resources in your area.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 

Loss will touch each of us. That touch can sear our souls. As a healing balm, I present a new October. Rather than become snared in the dread of loss, I intend to spin a circle of compassion. I loved Alexa. I lost her. What did I love that made the loss so keen? What do I do, and what will I do to keep from stumblingthrough October and every day, week, month? By sharing my journey, I hope to make yours easier, to offer a hand when you stumble, to keep you from falling. If you fall, I want my hand to be there to help you up and back into life.

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ 

Do you have a “long, sad, month” or do you know of someone who is stuck in the depths of grief? Please feel free to share your concerns, struggles, victories in the comments. I welcome private correspondence at mysistersgarden@gmail.com.

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