The news of another’s loss, prompts the grief all over again, ripping open the wound. Remembering what the deep trenches of grief feel like, my heart aches for those living in that space right now.
The constant fight between being in the present and wanting to dive into the past to soak it all in and remember every detail. So many emotions flood through your mind. Bouncing back and forth between thankfulness, sadness, regret, anxiety, and love like a pinball machine. Grateful for those who are reaching out yet overwhelmed with the responses and duties that must get done.
The arrangements to be made.
The people to notify.
The acknowledgements to those who took the effort to assist or show up.
The incomprehensible energy it takes to bear your face to the world.
The gifts and food and flowers that fill the kitchen, ride the fine line between a blessing and a burden. Thankful for not having to shop or prepare meals yet overwhelmed with the vast amount and what to do with it all.
So stunned by what has occurred and equally shocked by the outpouring of support, that you become immobile. Burying as much down deep as you can and still unable to contain it all as it seeps through your eyes every hour of the day without warning.
The deep trenches of grief are not confined to the week of the death. You don’t just crawl out the day after the burial, or the day you go back to work. You dwell in this space for weeks, sometimes months, occasionally seeing the light of day through others. Carefully navigating the trenches, you learn to avoid the sinkholes that suck you way under to the dark space. Gradually finding your footing, you slowly climb out of the trenches using others who have been down this road as stepping stones to help you find your way out. You constantly ride the balance between participating in real life and finding a dark corner to sink into, to be alone.
Slowly the trenches of grief dry out. They become less muddy, the ruts become more familiar to walk on. You find solid footing and are able to feel the sunshine. You begin to let others back into your life and can see a greater purpose beyond your pain. It still hurts and the grief can hurl you back into that space in a moment’s notice, but you no longer live down in the trenches. You live in the daylight. You recognize that space was not your forever home, even though it felt like it in the moment. You arise from the depth of the trenches of grief as a strong hope for others just arriving to that space.
It feels like a competition. We are supposed to be reaching for more.
More cars or campers or boats.
More time with the kids.
More time with our spouse.
And in that pursuit of more, we feel defeated. Everything is just right out of range. Just when we hit a new level, the goal post is moved. We can never fully grasp the more.
In this fight to gain more, we are losing what we have today. We are losing the moments of joy and heartbreak that are building the depth in us. We are forgetting that life is not supposed to be the perfection we are striving for.
My heart has a soft spot for the mess of life.
The house in complete disarray because it was filled with kids for the day.
The kitchen table scoffed with scratches and old paint because it is used for so much more than eating.
The souls who dare to be vulnerable enough to cry in front of strangers and let their laughter fill a room.
The buildings with chippy paint on the outside yet filled with banter and good conversation inside.
It is the imperfection that brings the depth to our lives. It is the imperfection that holds the memories. It is the imperfection that tells our story.
Sometimes it is so hard to be a parent.
You read all the books, absorbing all the wisdom, and they still won’t sleep through the night.
You hold their hand and teach them to use their words, and still they turn into biters with vampire-like refluxes every time they get upset at daycare.
You explain wants versus needs, yet they still end up flailing on the floor of Target because they “need” that toy.
You set boundaries and they push limits, breaking their arm jumping off a shed.
You teach them right and wrong and have consequences, and yet they still end up at the party and break curfew.
At every stage of raising these little people, we feel failure as parents. We wonder where we went wrong. We wonder how we ended up in this place. And in all this questioning and self-doubt, we forget that we are all human --- no matter what our age.
We all have good days and bad days, the moments where we feel like following the norm and the moments where we need to rebel. We all have moments where we succeed and moments where we fall short.
The times where I have felt like the best parent are not the times where my kid brought home straight A’s, scored the winning points, or was voted most popular. The times where I know I am doing these kids justice are the times when it feels the hardest.
… when my sister died and they snuggled up next to me asking the hard questions that I tried my best to answer.
... when they were hurt or sick and needed extra kisses and someone to brush their hair back and they came to me for comfort and the reminder that this too shall pass.
… when they see me upset and wrap me a quiet hug to comfort me.
… when they confess and apologize for something they have done wrong, before I even realize it occurred.
… when they show grace to each other, to their friends, and even to me for being less than.
… when they stand up and do the right thing, even when it is difficult.
… when they find refuge and shelter in another trusted adult, instead of me, because I have built the right village to raise them.
These times that feel the hardest are when I am most proud of the people they are becoming – people filled with depth and grace and empathy and courage; people that can have hard conversations, forgive and make their corner of the world a better place.
I’m not looking to raise perfection, I’m just looking to raise good people. None of us have this parenting thing perfected, the best we can do is keep moving forward with faith over fear.
Hi! I'm Jessy, one of the co-owners of Purpose + Grit and co-authors of the book Faith Over Fear: Walking Angie Home. I share my life with my husband Kyle, our three kids, Ally, Charley and Rad and our German Shephard, Roxy. You will usually find me with coffee in my cup and paint on my clothes, tackling one of my many projects 15 minutes at at time.