This is huge. I’m a bit of a control freak. I like to plan ahead. I like for things to go my way and I don’t adjust very easily to changes in plan. Once I’ve decided what I’m going to do, I’ll do that. If life is like a river, I was floating along quite happily, before Lach died and enjoying all of the little sights along the way. The course was predictable, I had a pretty good idea about what was coming even if I couldn’t see it…then out of nowhere I was blindsided by a steep and raging waterfall. There was no way to prepare for this and I suddenly found myself under the water, frantic, disoriented, and scrambling for a breath of air. I’m not sure exactly how it happened, but somehow, I emerged to the surface. When I looked around, the new scenery was not like what it was before. It was ugly and gray. I hated this new scene. I wanted to go back, but every moment pulled me further away from the old happy place, my comfortable and predictable stream. It took all my strength just to stay afloat. The harder I tried to fight the direction of the river, the more exhausted and helpless I felt. Despite the fight against the current, I was still not making any ground in my quest to go back. Surrender was the only real option.
To surrender to grief means to take each moment, individually, as it comes, without expectation of how I should think or feel. I found too many times that as soon as I started expecting to feel any particular thing, I would be blindsided by a different emotion. When I thought I wasn’t strong enough to get through a particular day, I’d unexpectedly have a pretty good day. If I thought I was getting better and was moving to a better place, I’d be swept under by a swift current of sadness. Fits of anger came out of the blue.
As I began to surrender to the journey, knowing I could never really predict it, I started to find some peace again. My goal became not to create an emotion or to change what I felt, but simply to acknowledge it for what it was and surrender to that. I still wanted the old scenery back
Surrender to the flow of the river has to come first, but that was the harder step for me. Once I stopped fighting it, then embracing it came more naturally. After I became willing to accept that going back was not an option, I became more willing to seek and find the new beauties around me. They were subtle at first, but the farther I’ve travelled from that treacherous waterfall, the more beauty I’ve been able to find. Very quickly I learned that reaching out the people on the banks of my river was very comforting. In the new course I’d taken, many of the people were people I’d never expected to be part of my journey, but they really are an amazing part. When I embrace this new course by sharing my experiences out loud, by offering bits of comfort to newly bereaved parents, by working to make a legacy that acknowledges Lach’s life, by sharing in the most difficult moments of some other people’s lives, there is an unexpected grace that makes it all worthwhile. Plain-old, every-day ordinary joys are visible again and Once I became willing to accept that going back was not an option, I became more willing to seek and find the new beauties around me. They were subtle at first, but the farther I’ve travelled from that treacherous waterfall, the more beauty I can find. And the joy of living returns in the willingness to embrace the new course that the river has taken.