My desk :) I am sitting at my new desk… Well, new to me! My cousins Janel and Steven got it for me as an early Christmas gift. Having a place to sit and write feels luxurious and wonderfully empowering!
Life is full of these little gifts, that come up alongside great agony, involuntarily putting a smile on my otherwise sullen face. December is like that. Many gifts. Lots of smiles. And cold winds that brush up against great agony, often causing an involuntary response… Sometimes laughter. Sometimes tears. Sometimes just unspoken pain.
I have learned and agonized over many terrible truths these last few months. Sometimes, I think it is just so cruel that I am facing all of these "truths" just shy of 30 years old. I was 28 when my husband died. It seemed young before, but now even more so. When I look at others my age, I grieve my innocence. I wish I could be carefree like them. I wish I still thought learning how to balance all the good things in life was the greatest evil I would ever face.
I miss my friends in Truro this Christmas season. Soooooo much. So many times I have tried to write letters, explain my decisions, portray my heart to you in a clear and understandable way. But every time, I get overwhelmed with emotion, and sometimes despair. There is no easy, clear, rational explanation for what has transpired in our lives and relationships. The reality just is, that I am devastated. That I am a wreck. That I have lost everything. And that I grieve.
I am learning more and more about grieving in our society, right now through another book, The Grief Recovery Handbook, by John W. James and Russell Friedman. I am so angry at the how difficult everything is. If our society was better equipped to handle loss, if I had been better prepared to handle Lynn's sudden death, more emotionally mature… Then maybe, just maybe, it would be a little easier. It wouldn't feel so impossible to understand one another, to share with close family and friends, to lean on loved ones… But it is so hard. And every griever knows it. As my sweet Aunt said last night, Nobody wants to join this club. But unless you're in it, you just don't get it. But we don't want them to get it. It's just too terrible.
Tomorrow is my 30th birthday. I am trying so hard to be positive. I am trying so hard to be kind and gracious and full of God's love. But I am angry. I am so so sad. I am devastated. It just gets heavier and heavier.
I am learning that forgiveness is a HUGE part of working through grief. Forgiving loved ones, forgiving the deceased, and embracing forgiveness for yourself. I find this hard. I find it hard to feel like life is so out of my control. That I can't fix anything. That I am so at the mercy of God's grace. That I can't talk to Lynn and beg his forgiveness for not being a good enough wife. That I can't change this terrible thing that happened so that Lynn and I get to grow old together, and learn more about each other, maturing together, figuring life out... In my head, I know it is all nonsense. But another thing I am learning, is that Grief is not a head matter.
In most cases, North Americans have a habit of converting their feelings into intellect. This does not work in grief. Grief is an EMOTIONAL MESS. It is an emotional response to loss. There is no rationale. There is no appropriate way to understand or experience it intellectually. This is precisely why so many grievers end up isolating themselves. Because loved ones try to be there for them by converting the emotional experience into intellect, as though we could rationalize the pain away. With Bible verses, myths about grief and "moving on", etc… This inevitably leads the griever to believe that their feelings are not acceptable, so they must keep them private and grieve alone.
I am shaking in my boots knowing that I am 1 day away from turning 30, entering a new decade, one more milestone that shuts Lynn away as part of my past. I am 10 days away from facing our 10th anniversary alone, and opening the time capsule we sealed after we were married. I am terrified of another Christmas. Last year was AWFUL, but I couldn't even conceive of what was happening. I had no way of preparing for it or knowing how to handle it. So I just gritted my teeth, dug my nails in, and hung on for dear life, hoping to make it to the other side. This one is different. I am more cognitively aware of Lynn's death and absence, and I have to find creative ways to remember him, to acknowledge him, to honour him this season…
I went to a Remembrance Service last night at my church. It was lovely (…apart form the very hokey music that Lynn would have HATED!!!). But I was unable to go up to the front, to light the candle and say aloud, This is in memory of my beloved husband, Lynn Robert Erskine, who died 15 months ago, father to Roya and Alea. I couldn't do it. Maybe next year. But it was good. It is so good that they have services for grievers to find a safe place to remember… "Aunt" Wendy gave me a candle to take home and kept it lit all night long. (It was a battery operated fire-less candle with Lynn's name written on it.)
Okay, Father. We're still on this journey. I'm so tired. I'm so sad. I can barely find the strength to open my eyes each morning. But I know you're with me. I know I'm in Your hands. I know You're in control. I see that this path does lead somewhere… Towards healing and wholeness, strength and joy. So go ahead. Be glorified today. You are my Lord. Lead me in the Way Everlasting...