When grief answers first, it isn’t pretty. And, sometimes, it’s raucous and self-involved. At least that’s my experience with it. Maybe I am more messy than most – though I suspect not. I suspect that what I am giving voice to here will not seem strange – or sacrilegious to the preciousness of life – if you have spent intimate time with grief.
Singular grief sucks. Multiple grief sucks. Overlapping grief sucks. I’ve done them all. When that gut-punch, double over, drop-to-your-knees moment hits, it is hard to imagine that there is anything beyond the pain.
When I found out I had breast cancer – just months after Ray took his last breath – grief spoke first. “Well, here’s your ticket out of all this pain. Your work here is done. It’s been a good run.”
When losing someone or something you love becomes a reality, it throws off the order. Ray’s run with a cancer that ended in death turned my days – and my morning prayer time – upside down. The pain felt in his absence left me with a desire for connection at any cost. Even if it meant I spoke to Ray first – and God second. Something I never did while he was alive.
My healing hierarchy fell out of balance while cancer cells feasted on estrogen without supervision – or should I say without “super vision.” When the small lump grew and ate away breast mass, I witnessed what the physical demonstration of grief must look like in a part of my body designed to nurture life as well as receive pleasure.
There are those who believe that disease gets its footing in times of dis-ease. As I look at the overlapping distress and disappointment, compressed into a span of five years, I have to say my dis-ease has carried on long enough. Even for this messy muse.
Each day, I wrestle with angels until I find a blessing – knowing that it will not be a blessing that offers a re-do. It will be a blessing where grief – singular, multiple or overlapping – learns to live with grace and gratitude, moment by precious moment.
When grief speaks first, I am learning to let it say its piece and forgive myself for what feels like an indulgence, for grief is not indulgent. It is simply a part of life. Then I wait for the whisper of grace. And I embrace grief as a part of evolution – not involution.
I wrestle with a greater awareness of love through the face of loss. And I evolve because I love – not because I loved.
Grief and grace invite me to be part of the equation. To notice the places where I am missing from myself as I am missing him or her – or this and that. To love more deeply and receive more freely.
How much grief and grace can a heart hold? A lot. An awful lot if we allow ourselves to evolve and expand through the process.
I intend to heal through this grief AND the cancer in my breast. And that means I have to give my ALL to the process. I have to be fully honest, fully present and fully human. (Got that human part down pat.)
I told you in my “Life. Death. Breast Cancer.” post that it would get messy here. I also said that if I share anything heavy, it would be to build muscle.
So, if grief is a challenge for you in this moment, you are not alone. When our hearts expand, they touch. Here’s to building muscle, together. I welcome your journey with grief here. And if you, too, are working hard for a physical healing in your life while wrestling with an overlapping grief, I would love to hear how you are doing with it.
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