After my mother’s passing, my grief felt rigid.
With my father, it had been different.
In Dad’s last days, our family gathered around him,
sharing laughter, tears, caresses, memories, and songs.
Sorrow flowed easily, soft and warm.
But Mom’s condition was more tense and erratic.
Due to other family stresses, I felt a much heavier sense of responsibility.
“Be strong,” I had commanded myself.
“Focus on making the right decisions for Mom.
Do everything possible to make this easier for others who loved her.”
Months passed, and my grief remained frozen inside me.
I felt it there: heavy, but not liquid.
I missed Mom a lot,
No longer could I phone her during my walks.
Frequently, I recalled good times we’d shared,
recounted the many ways she’d contributed to my life.
But there was no warm swelling of emotion,
and tears refused to come.
This is not like me.
Am I doing something wrong?
I wasn’t trying to stop the feelings. Should I try to force them?
What is grief supposed to be like?
I stilled myself and listened to my heart.
Then I knew.
As a girl, I enjoyed swimming in the Gulf of Mexico.
Actually, I liked riding the waves.
Some came gently,
rolling waves that tickled my stomach and lifted me off my feet:
some small ones and others delightfully large,
but still gentle.
Then there were the more ferocious waves,
ones surfers in California would like but too rough for me.
Those roaring waves hit hard,
sometimes grabbing me up,
whirling me head over heels,
filling my sinuses with stinging salt water,
and filling my swimsuit with scratchy sand as they threw me onto the beach.
Grieving, I decided, is like the waves of the ocean.
Grief waves come in all sizes and in varying degrees of force.
They feel different, gentle to wild.
But how often they come and how forceful they are is beyond the griever’s control.
Just wait, I told myself.
It will come when it’s ready.
Then the week before Mother’s Day, I stood at the kitchen sink.
As I recalled the tradition of the red and white carnations,
I felt my grief softening.
Time to feel, I told myself as I went to my computer to blog about white carnations.
When I read my blog to my daughter-in-law,
I choked with tears,
splashing my wave all over her.
I felt a little embarrassed, but maybe she needed to share my experience.
Later, when I called my cousin, I wasn’t surprised when she cried, too.
But it was all right. We need to share each others’ tears.
For this week, you might want to consider why scripture gives us this exhortation:
Rejoice with those who rejoice,
and weep with those who weep.
Be of the same mind toward one another.
Romans 12:15-16a NKJV