This morning, someone asked me to pray for a woman who recently lost her husband. The loss happened right before the holidays but the past few weeks have seem to hit her the hardest. The busyness of the season somehow helped, or at least paused the pain. Though I’m sure not having her husband with her over the holidays came with extreme grief, loneliness settled in now. Schedules cleared, decorations put away, visitors gone, and all that is left is the gloomy weather to keep her company.
As a mother who lost her teenage son on a Thanksgiving weekend, I could empathize.
How I remember the pain that came with the passing of time. I willed it to stop. For just one day, to have the ability to push pause on the chaos I felt inside, while everyone else went back to their lives. There were many times I recall watching others shopping or driving, simply living life, and I was filled with an array of emotions. How could everyone so quickly move on?
The shift was felt as early as after the funeral. There is such an immediate barrage of people in the beginning. Honestly, you are so numb and in shock those first days it can almost be overwhelming. With each week, the support trickles, as your need for companionship increases.
During early loss, the passing of time is marked constantly. You mentally count the hours since…days apart…firsts without. Whatever hour in which they died is a nightmare relieved with the chiming of the clock. Time preoccupies your mind and, for awhile, it seems like all you’ll ever focus on again. Sleep deprivation kicks in, which makes days even longer. Sometimes you almost see and feel the seconds slowly pass.
Emotions are so raw you’re fearful to be with others, though you long for it. But you’re never sure when a trigger might pull you down or fill your eyes with tears. Most days you decline invitations or make excuses to go home, so you can cry alone.
Salvation from the sorrow comes from friends and family who will wade into the grief to walk with you. Those who know time doesn’t heal in the beginning, it only makes it harder. I’ll forever be grateful to the ones who stopped by, said a prayer, or a sent a card months later. Those who knew the very moment I needed a call or text. The ones who drug me out or over and gave me a distraction from the despair. Those who held my hand and helped to begin the healing of my heart.
Grief and time are messy combinations. It results in unexpected, ever-changing feelings and perspective. They can shift forward or back, without warning or permission. Time can become both an enemy and friend, appreciated and hated within the same breath.