“Grief is an emotional, spiritual and psychological journey to healing”
Elizabeth Kubler Ross
I sat on the edge of the unmade bed waiting for the cup of tepid coffee to spurt from the small brewer in my hotel room. As the gurgling stopped, I heard the familiar ding indicating an inbox message had just arrived. I stood up, wrestled with the plastic packaging that held my creamer pack and poured it in. I was stirring the oily substance into the dark brew as I ran my thumb over my notification to find her message.
“She’s gone. My sister is gone”
Knowing my dear friend as well as I do, and her predisposition to long winded narratives, these simple six words were indicative of the shock, the confusion, the pain and the tears that she was typing through. Not knowing in those moments where to turn to share such news, she had come to me, knowing that I would understand what she was trying to convey. I sat stunned for a brief moment, I barely recall what I responded with as the waves of her agony washed over me.
She is the grief counselor. I am the medium. And for those brief moments to follow, our shared understanding of death fell to the wayside as neither of us could find the words to make this disappear. This wasn’t a typical death. Her sister was younger, living life, raising a child, vivacious…and a few hours before this one….she was alive. Or perhaps it was a typical death for those that we respectively counsel, but in that space of time, we were without vocabulary and hopeless together. I didn’t have to utter a syllable, and she didn’t expect one. A thousand miles apart we sat together in the silence and found some odd comfort there.
I closed my eyes against my tears, calmed the punch into my stomach and sent her my angels.
This news shook me to my very core. I couldn’t understand why I was feeling this so deeply. I didn’t know her sister well, I had met her only twice. I only knew of their ridiculous adventures, their shared love of anything inappropriate and their bond that I envied from afar. My struggle with finding the right things to say grew stronger as I bombarded her with flippant and humorous anecdotes to move her through the process of the first days of her loss. Her pain was far too familiar, our friendship too close. Thankfully, her sister being the powerful woman she was, was able to assist me with her words often falling from my fingertips and spilling onto the page in front of me. Some were not the most comforting of words and my instinct was to backspace them away. But true to myself I left them there hanging and was brightened by the laughter on the other end. My friend needed these words so I left them for her.
A few weeks ago now, the process of the expected duties of the bereaved came to a crashing halt. It happens. After the whirlwind of must do is over, the silence of not knowing what to do will descend. She took to sharing her thoughts in her not knowing.
” What my sister has taught me about grief is that you cannot hide from it. As an educated psychotherapist, I have read about this and counseled others but now I am living it. You can stay as busy as possible and you can take care of everyone, but it will come looking for you. Those times when something hilarious just happened and you go to text her, it will find you. In those times when you see a family photo after she’s gone and instantly notice her absence, it will find you. Those times when you think about the trips you had planned to take, it will find you.”
You cannot hide from it.
I saw my friend yesterday. We sat on her couch and she shared over lemon blueberry scones with warm butter and coffee. Well, coffee for me. Steeped tea with an ungodly amount of sugar for her. “Coffee will kill ya” Yes, well so will sugar in copious amounts. Ding ding.
But I digress.
She curled her legs up beneath her, picked away at her scone and spoke of her anger surrounding certain elements of such a profound loss. Her resentment in finding that some didn’t recognize how to allow for healing. As I sat listening, I began to recognize the tone of her voice, the pinch of her lips and the sadness in her eyes. As I sat watching her I saw myself and heard all of the words I have never expressed.
It’s been nearly two years since I also lost someone very dear to me. I have lost many people but not one of them provided me a better lesson in out running grief such as this one did. Maybe it was his age, his unassuming manner, his expectation of nothing, his gratefulness for the small things. Maybe it was simply that we grew up together. Or maybe it is my own anger over a life not fully lived. I really have no answer for it. All I do know is that every now and then…swells of grief wash over me while I scramble to find a beach bucket to scoop them away, because I just don’t have time for this today…
You cannot hide from it
I know because I’ve been trying.
There is no hiding from this. You can’t comfort it away in comforting others. You can’t busy it away in heavy schedules and must do lists. You can’t write it away, dance it away or dream it away. It is a part of your world and you must allow yourself to honor that part by giving space to it when it demands. You can’t pencil in the time you spend with it. It simply is there and it rarely announces its arrival.
Grief showed up yesterday and I allowed it in. To share blueberry lemon scones with warm butter. To share familiar words and familiar feelings with a friend.
And grief will show up again next week, next month or next year.
And I will sit with it over hot coffee and blueberry scones…
And share with it what it will teach me.
And then share it with you.
My friend’s blog is below if you wish to read the rest of her words. I would do so, because she is incredibly gifted at helping us understand. She opened my eyes yesterday without even intending to do so. That’s a gift. 🙂
“What My Sister Has Taught Me About Grief”
In love..in light..in giggles and copious amounts of silliness..