There are no textbooks. There are no rules. There are no check lists. There are no “How to” guides. There are no set time limits. Healing from any loss is different for each person. Grace for yourself, grace for others, grace in healing. The following are just a few things that have helped me along the way. Somethings you learn by experience, trial and error and plain old grit. Resources are helpful, yet, you have to decide on a mindset to get you through your difficult journey.
1. Breathe. Vehicle, Appliances, and furniture shopping rank up there with my least favorite things to shop for!! I know the salesmen have a job to do and commission is how they make their living. But, some can be downright annoying!! When I needed to start shopping for a newer vehicle, I called in reinforcements. My brother oddly enjoys shopping for cars! I told him how much I had and what kind of car I was looking for and asked him to go find it for me!! He is a good big brother! He found several close by, so we took a day to go around and check them out. Driving between dealerships, I had taken a deep breath and sighed loudly. He glanced over at me and asked if I was okay. I was. Just needed to take a deep breath. Since Mark’s passing I’d catch myself holding my breath and needing to take a deep breath! I don’t even remember it starting, I just remember realizing I need to breathe. There were many days when my greatest accomplishment for the day was to breathe. The elephant sitting on my chest made it rather difficult to breath most days! I took it as a win at the end of the day when I could take a deep breath! Other times when anxiety kicked in, the world around me was closing in, and I couldn’t think straight and put an intelligent sentence together, I panicked. I had to mentally remind myself to breathe. They were shallow breaths at first. Each breath I could take a little deeper and a little deeper. I wasn’t just inhaling the air around me, I was inhaling God’s presence and strength. In the beginning, I was exhaling the anxiety and panic. Soon, I was exhaling His peace and comfort. I would turn to a close friend, look at her and tell her to tell me to breathe, just breathe! Sometimes I could tell myself and calm down. Other times I needed someone to remind me to just breathe, it will be okay. By the end of that moment, I was able to take deep breaths and settle my nerves. We need to breathe. Why not let it be beneficial from the inside out.
2. Cut yourself some slack. Single parent of three teenagers, working full time, keeping up with my oldest’s work schedule, my middle son playing baseball, running my daughter here and there with after school activating, trying to find a house, keep up with laundry and paying the bills, oh, let’s throw in there home cooked meals!! During baseball season, we ate more frozen meals and restaurant meals in 2 months more than ever. I had to fight for a time to sit down at a table together for a meal. And even then, It was chicken strips and boxed mac and cheese. I know how to cook. I’m pretty decent at it. Yet, with everything else going on fixing a home cooked meal was at the bottom of my priority list. Sad, but true. After a couple of weeks of processed and frozen food, I was being way too hard on myself about not being a good mom and providing better meals for my family. By the time we got to Sunday lunch, I was too exhausted to even think about putting a home cooked meal together. Can we say Mom Guilt! We are our own worst enemy. I couldn’t see the forest for all the trees. It was time to pause, take a step back, gain some perspective and cut myself some slack! Per #1, I needed to take a deep breath! In taking several deep breaths, I could start to think and process clearly. Taking a step back and gaining perspective allowed me to realize how well we were actually doing. Who cares if we are eating out too much. It’s only for a short time, it’s temporary. Who cares if the house is a little messy, sooner or later we will have energy to pick up. So what, if for a couple of months we only have a family meal together a couple of times a week. It’s short term, we will be back to sharing several meals a week together. I’m still breathing. All three of my teeangers are still breathing and I’m not wearing orange!! It’s okay. They are okay. We are doing amazingly well for the difficult journey we are on. It’s normal to have bumps in the road. It’s normal to not be okay. It’s normal to wonder if it’s ever going to get better. I’m normal, well, as normal as I can be! (Not really that normal!!) Have you ever taken a step back, tried to look from the outside in and see what others may see and not be narrow minded by your own vision? Easier said than done! Sometimes taking that step back means changing scenery. Sometimes walking into another room does the trick. And sometimes, you stay where you’re at, inhale several deep breaths and a clearer picture emerges. The end result is seeing a broader picture and realizing you doing a pretty good job of living life in spite of the pain. So cut yourself some slack. You’re figuring it out and doing just fine!
3. Grace. First, understand that God’s grace can not be put into one sentence or thought. God’s grace goes far beyond what my human brain can fathom. This much I do know, I do not deserve His grace, yet, He freely gives it anyway. The undeserved grace He gives me enables me to give grace to the undeserving. People say dumb things. Including myself. People can make insensitive comments and touch a nerve that they didn’t even know was there. Grace is forgiving that insensitivity and not becoming bitter or angry over it. Easy?? Nope! In the early stages of grief, the last thing I wanted to hear were, “He’s in a better place. He’s not suffering anymore. It was his time.” Or they quote scripture back to me. Like I don’t already know them. Or when decisions I make are questioned. I’m having a hard enough time making the decision let alone not doubting it’s the right decision. Or, someone trying to give you advice when they haven’t been through a loss like I have. Ugh, please, stop now! So, I may have been a little snippy! I knew my thoughts were rude and uncalled for. Most times I was able to keep my snide remarks to myself. Either way, I knew the thoughts and comments were not right or fair to the other person. I felt God’s tap on my shoulder as he showered me with His grace and the bitterness dissipated. Because He freely gave me grace, I looked at the other person and thought, they mean well, they are trying to help, they are not intentionally hurting me. Show them the same grace God showered upon me. So, I took a deep breath, gave my head a shake, said thank you and moved on. This is easier to do with people you don’t know or are acquaintances with. It’s a little more difficult to do the same to the people you are closest to. Because, they too, will say something that will strike a nerve that they can’t see. Either way, no matter who it is, give grace. I certainly don’t deserve the grace God gives me day after day. Why not be an example of His grace and give grace to others.
My friends, I have shared often, there is no rhyme or reason to working through loss. The three listed above have been the backbone to my healing. Breathe in His presence and strength. Exhale His peace and comfort. As I take my deep breaths, I can take several steps back and see how far I’ve come and how much I’ve grown. In doing so, I can cut myself some slack. I am okay. Lastly, His grace. No one deserves the curve balls life has thrown you, but they’ve thrown anyway. What are you going to do about it? His grace released pain and hurt at just the right times to allow healing to take place in just the right way at just the right time. My goodness, I do not deserve His grace, yet He freely gives it. So, I will do my best to freely give grace to others. That has allowed me to let go of anger and bitterness towards people, situations and circumstances. If you haven’t experienced a great loss, consider it a blessing. No matter who you are, where you are or what is holding you back, take a deep breath, cut yourself some slack and receive His grace and extend it to others. It’s so freeing. Take a leap of faith and give it a try.
Thanks for sharing a moment with me. We are in this, grace filled moment, together in Him.