People often refer to grief as a journey. Imagine going on a road trip this holiday season. You are the driver of the vehicle and two characters have joined you. One is called “Reason”. The other is called “Grief”.
As Grief enters the vehicle, your heart pours out.
It all starts with…
Reason and I are about to go on a new road trip. It is one of facing the holidays without my loved one. I have never been down this road before…
Reason and I go back a long way. He helps me each and every day.
I understand that you, Grief, will be joining us, since you are now a new “forced” companion. I wish you didn’t have to sit with me in this journey through the holidays, and beyond, but I am accepting your presence and understand that this is important.
I hear that you have an important job to do in my life, and that you take your job very seriously. Apparently your job is to induce both “ intense grief moments” and “multiple grief triggers” on me as the next weeks go by. I also hear that you are “superb” at your job… so by all means, keep doing it, if you feel you must. But, on this road trip, I will also be doing my job, which is to take care of myself and try to stay focused on my needs. Reason often explains to me that I can’t push you away and that you are not my enemy. He says that you, Grief, can possibly even take me to a place of peace, and that you are not here to block joy from entering my life.
Reason will be doing his job in this vehicle, which is to remain calm and sympathetic to my needs. There’s plenty of room for all of us, so buckle your seatbelt, and understand that Reason and I are going to be very mindful of you. Grief, I recognize and respect that you are part of me now, and so I will never exclude you from our activities.
You’re allowed to have a seat, and you’re allowed to have a voice, but be informed that Reason and I will also be on Google Maps. I understand that I might have to go through a couple of county’s that I have never travelled before…like the “Ugly County”, the “Raw County”, the “Numb County” but I am also looking forward to travelling in the “Restoring Purpose County” and the “Open to Hope County”.
I understand Grief that you will influence my GPS this holiday season and that you’ve been down these roads before as driving through the holidays is something you do every year. Reason has explained to me that detours may be needed since you’re the expert.
Please understand that if you fiddle with the temperature in the vehicle, I need it to remain warm and comfortable. I am so sensitive lately. If you have purchased a freshener of any kind, know that it may trigger a holiday memory of mine. As you play the radio, know that your song choice will have a huge impact on me. Please try to play songs that will help my broken heart. But above all else, my dear old familiar friend, if you take the wheel, please always bring me to people who understand and care for me. Help me to choose wisely if I am to attend holiday gatherings as sometimes a big crowd is easier than a small one, because you can slip out un-noticed as you need to.
Reason and I are looking for companionship and alone time during this holiday season. Along the road, if you see advertisements of musical offerings, candlelight meditations or memorial services like this one, please take note. I have been reflecting on possibly volunteering in a local soup kitchen this holiday season. After all, it is an “acceptable” reason for not attending family obligations, and also a way I could serve others in my own quiet way.
Reason has pointed out that you are constantly going to remind us of the hurt and the pain of loosing our loved one, my friend. That is the reality and we know it. Encourage me to reach out to people who won’t mind me speaking my loved one’s name; people who will cry with me and let me hurt; people who will make me feel safe; people who will be supportive and comforting; people who will encourage me to be myself… both sad and happy.
I must add Grief, I was concerned when you joined my life after my loved one died. Did you know you sometimes have a reputation of being a “disorder”, a “disease” or a “sign of weakness”? Reason continually reassures me that you are an “emotional, physical and spiritual necessity” in my life. Some people even refer to you as the “Price we Pay for Love”. One thing for sure Grief is that behind my smile is a grieving heart, behind my laugh I’m falling apart, behind my eyes are tears at night and behind my body is a soul trying to fight.
I have brought a warm and cozy blanket in the vehicle to curl up into when I need to. Reason is determined to make this season as much about comfort as he can. He wants me to share my needs with him daily.
I understand that both of you will want to take turns and sit in the passenger’s seat while the other sits in the back. You are both welcome in the front seat but I would like to do most of the driving. Don’t worry, in bad weather, I will slow down and stay off the roads when needed.
When you’ve lost someone, they are always near your mind and present in your heart. Thank you both for letting me speak of my loved one as we drive on these new highways and roads. Always remember that I meet my loved one again and again. I meet them in a song, in a photograph or a video. I carry more than their picture. I carry their memory. I am one of the REMEMBERERS! I am the one to cherish and preserve a legacy. I drive forward as an alteration of my being, with a new way of seeing, a new sense of self and a heart filled with sorrow. Reason and Grief, I appreciate and welcome both of your perspectives.
Then we head off together – me and Reason and Grief – side by side forever, advancing once more into the terrifying but marvelous terrain of unknown outcome.
-Lyne Drolet, Hospice Simcoe Volunteer