Wednesday, December 8, 2010

grieving gratefully

grief doesn't go away. and today i figured out another reason i'm glad it doesn't.

in the past, i've been glad it doesn't go away for some reasons about which i have some questions regarding their health value. i've been glad to hang onto it as a last remaining tangible bit of eliza. i've been loathe to let it go because it felt like all i had left. like losing my pain about eliza's death is somehow "getting over it" in a way that means having lost her more completely than before. that's real and true and far from unique to me, i know. i'm not sure, however, how healthy it is. but today i figured out another reason i'm glad to still grieve having lost eliza, and i think this one is much healthier.

last night, sam and i were talking about what we have done with our grief--or perhaps more accurately, what it has done to and for us. i had a few thoughts on the spot. i think i've developed a different type of compassion. i've learned something about how to show up for people. i understand myself and my own needs better. i know suffering in a way i never knew before, and i'm able to share that with others. i have become more transparent for sure, as evidenced by some of what i post here. none of this is meant to sound like i have it all nailed, of course. but God has used my grief to teach me some things, is all, and i think those things have clarified for me who i am and what He has for me to do.

but the part of that conversation that really broke me was when i talked about what i wish my grief had done for me. this is the really raw, hard part: i wish it had made me a better mother. if anything, i'm afraid it has done the opposite. i wish that in losing eliza i had learned to be more grateful for luke. i wish my selfish impatience with his seven-year-old-ness--his slowness to make his bed in the morning, his lies about whether or not he has brushed his teeth, his failure to unpack his backpack after school despite repeated requests, his constant arguing with any parental directive at all--i wish my grief could cause me to see past my impatience with these childish failures and allow me to be grateful that he is here, and he is seven, and he is healthy, and he will someday (deo volente) be eight. why is all my eternal perspective and compassion for others and yadda yadda yadda completely lost on my child? why is it that while most of my life seems to benefit from the good parts of my grief, luke gets only the exhausted, impatient, fragile part?

it was as i sat waiting for luke in the carpool line today that i realized this is the great mercy in the persistence of grief: it is not finished changing me. if it were gone, if i were over it, then its failure to make me a better mother would be over and done with. but the fact that i still grieve, the fact that this week is painful and life-changing still and all over again, means that my grief is not done with me. it means that i can still look forward to the changes it is effecting and will effect in my life. and i can pray that growth as a mother will be one of those changes.


Patricia Berman said...

Oh are a wonderful mother. But I can tell you from experience that you have yet to realize what your loss will enable you to do for others.

Cortney said...

love this friend and while I wish I could take the source of your grief away, I love its presence in your life.
This is just what I needed to hear as I get ready for my homeschool morning :-)

Cortney said...
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