As I peel back the junk of my life my grief takes a different form.  My grief oozes to the surface as my armor of perfectionism, performance, and pride begin to crack.  Our society doesn’t like to grieve.  From what I see it doesn’t even know how to grieve well.  Other cultures have protocols for grieving.  Our society doesn’t like to discuss the matter.  My generation thinks it is invincible, death seems irrelevant.  To be present in dying is awkward at best.  So we wait until its thrust upon us and cope in quiet.

During my cancer diagnosis my one dear friend made sure to let me know that no matter what she was going to be by my side, she surveyed the realities and let me know straight up that she was willing to go deep with me, even to the point of navigating death with me.  I appreciated her willingness to express this; but it was not until later that I began to realize the value in her promise.  Most people aren’t willing to go there, to a place of deep grief faced head on.

As I am thrust into all of my life realities grief takes different shapes.  The overt grief over the loss of my future I had hoped and dreamed for is apparent and accepted by others.  But as I begin to process the more subtle grief I realize the burdens others hold.  In our society grief is not allowed to be called grief unless it is big and clear-cut.  Conversations with friends regarding miscarriage have made this apparent.  Miscarriage is so very common and yet still minimally talked about.  Still many women do not feel validated about their grief over miscarriage.  I had a miscarriage.  Ryan did not grieve it.  I did.  It was an emotional upheaval of loss.  What I see from this is that what causes me grief, may not cause you grief and vice versa.  How I grieve will certainly differ from how you grieve.  But grief is grief.  If a circumstance, situation, or loss – no matter how small- is causing you to grieve, you are grieving.  Grief does not need to meet criteria; there is no criteria for what causes grief.  I want our society to peel back the façade and give voice to grief when it is there.  (How else can we love each other well?)

I am grieving the loss of my career.  It hit me sharply.  I was surprised up until this point that I have not felt the loss of my profession.  I thought I was just too busy with other matters and accepted right now it definitely wouldn’t be healthy to be working, even if I was able to keep pace with the mental and physical demands (which I wouldn’t be able to).(*1)  Then I got an email.  It was quite benign, but it was the tap on my back which pushed tumbling forward into grief.  The email was simply a note indicating that my company would not be paying for my pharmacist malpractice insurance this year because it appeared I was not working.  Reasonable. Accurate.  I need malpractice insurance to have my pharmacist license.  Absolutely I could pay for it myself.  This wasn’t really the issue.  It was simply the rub.  As I assessed my circumstance I decided that I will not be renewing my pharmacy license this year. (I have 5 years to return to practice with little difficulty).  Then there I it read on the Pharmacist College website: Former pharmacists cannot use the title “pharmacist”.  As of July 1 I am no longer a pharmacist.  The profession I loved.  The job I worked so hard to be qualified for.  The patients I enjoyed caring for.  The public I appreciated engaging with in this capacity.  It’s disappearing from my life and I grieve.  I cried when I got that simple email that was anything but simple.

Grief is like that.  It’s not simple.  It’s not clear-cut.  But it is real.  It has many faces.  And certainly, to be human is to grieve.  I have learned that when I grieve I can move forward.  If I do not grieve, my wounds fester, life becomes stagnant because I cannot move forward.

Jesus grieved.  He cried at the death of his friend.  Jesus grieved the anticipation of his own death.  Jesus watched his mother grieve as he hung dying on the cross.  Jesus was no stranger to grief.  He understands.  He holds us in our grief, reminding us this world will give us many troubles; but that he has overcome the world.

My mom shared an anecdote she heard with me.  It was fitting.  It helped me see my circumstances in a new positive light.  It’s a “story” of a woman setting off on a lovely vacation and adventure.  She sets to go to Parisand experience the city of love.  Where she ends up is Holland in the tulip fields.  She is anger and upset that she has not landed where she had hoped.  She doesn’t enjoy this one bit!  She wishes she was Paris, she cries for Paris, she dreams of Paris.  It takes her a very good long while to grieve that she has not landed in Paris; but when she finally works through her grief she opens her eyes to the beauty of where she has ended up.  It is not what she dreamed for, it is not what she hoped for; but it is beautiful.

When I peel back the junk and when I open myself up to grieve and move past the grief the results are spectacular.  I begin to see the beauty around me, in this life that I am actually living in, which is not the life I had envisioned.  I wrote in my journal, “I’ve wound up not where I had set out for —  I set out to be a working career mom of 2.  I ended up mom of 3, stripped of my career.  But it is good! Though it has taken time to see the goodness in it and I’ve struggled to be okay with this, it is indeed good.  Beauty finds me here, its just so different from what I expected, I didn’t see it at first.”

Oh let us be people who accept grief wherever she shows up, not asking her to fit criteria.  Let us be people who are unafraid to grieve and to grieve together.  Let us be people who let grief shape us into more human humans.

Oh, let me throw off this sin that so easily entangles, let me run with perseverance, let me keep my eyes ever on Jesus.  Jesus who sees me.  Jesus who guides me.  Jesus who grieves with me. Jesus who’s waiting to grieve with you.  Jesus who is full of goodness. (*2)         

1)I do great at focusing on one task at a time with no pressure. So if you meet me in a quiet setting I probably seem completely like myself.  But I fatigue so easy and I’ve had to even release my self-imposed pressure to complete the novel I am writing (which is SO close to being complete; I will get to it as I get to it) because it was not healthy for myself or for my family.  I cannot go in multiple directions, it causes my circuits to overload and I shut down.  I am grateful I can do unilateral tasks – writing with no “deadlines”, running (which is actually mostly walking) with no race to attend, “quiet” social gatherings (I put quiet in quotations because quiet doesn’t usually happen when the kids are there too; then it is “managed” social gatherings.), planning excursions one at a time (not a whole years worth always fluidly being planned in my brain like I used to)
2) Hebrews 12:2