When grief answers first … wait.

When Grief Answers First 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. Sharing is Caring. And feel free to subscribe.

11 thoughts on “When grief answers first … wait.

  • July 28, 2017 at 10:00 pm
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    Well, dear Bernadette, love surrounds you from near and far and here and there.
    Sometimes when we wrestle we hold our inner infant in a tight embrace to keep it safe. We wrap ourselves and our heart in a crystal impervious egg. When the egg cracks, we know we are safe no matter what and we are finally free. It is always tough.
    Love you dear one, Jan

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  • July 28, 2017 at 10:16 pm
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    One of the things my guides/angels taught me was to say and believe “Only good will come of this”. It is my strong belief now, that only good will come no matter how things look..
    Love to you always and all ways.

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    • July 30, 2017 at 5:56 pm
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      I am with you and your angels on that, Jan. God always has the last word … we just have to listen. Love you, dear friend! XO

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  • July 29, 2017 at 1:55 am
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    You articulate in such a thoughtful manner.

    I often think now about my life in a reality of two versions. Before the death of my husband, I lived life in Technicolor, now life is viewed through a sepia lenses.

    I try to start and end each day being thankful for the blessings of my life, and they are many.

    Thank you for sharing and echoing some of my innermost feelings.

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    • July 30, 2017 at 6:03 pm
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      You articulate beautifully as well, Arabella. Your technicolor/sepia imagery captures this piece of our journey perfectly. Sometimes the blessings are an unexpected chuckle … and sometimes I think I hear Ray chuckling with me. Those are as precious now as they were back when. I do believe that our grateful moments are shared and I strive to get to that place more often. I don’t know how you found my messy room but I am glad you did. You bring a light with you. XO

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  • July 29, 2017 at 12:39 pm
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    Honest and pure. Love you!

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  • July 29, 2017 at 3:47 pm
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    I’ve learned that when grief raises itself first, my thoughts also merge into thoughts of guilt.
    “I should have done this.” “I should have said that.” “For heaven’s sake, I should have never done this.”
    But that seems to be true for so many of us. Some call it “survivor’s guilt”. He’s gone. I’m not. “I should have loved more while he was here.”
    I love the blog, Bernadette.
    It speaks to grief, gratitude and grace – or should I say: “Guilt, grief, gratitude and grace”.
    I am always astounded by your ability to witness grace even in the most trying of times. You are and have always been such an inspiration. I am humbled and honored to be a part of your tribe.

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    • July 30, 2017 at 6:10 pm
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      Yes … guilt. When that pops up it makes the grief unbearable. As you know, I wrestle with that “G-word,” too. It is so much easier for me to forgive another than it is myself. And, of course, when the lens of guilt shows up we only see a small fragment of the picture. “Above all else, I wish to see.”– ACIM

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  • July 29, 2017 at 5:51 pm
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    Thank you for sharing your Story Bernadette. It’s real, intimate, courages, and something we all face eventually in one way or another. I love your trinity of three muses; Grief, Gratitude, and Grace. They visit, even possess, us in turn don’t they. As muses they give us a language to manifest and deal with formless emotions. I entertain Grace and Gratitude regularly but Grief only gingerly. I have no taste for Grief and don’t intend to acquire one. Once you let Grief in the door it wants to stay. Breath in grace, breath in gratitude, but exhale Grief into and ever receding past, leaving only the eternal spirit of our beloved in our heart. Grief can be an all consuming black hole that crush and absorb us in their gravity. Grief cannot be given free reign. Once past the event horizon there is no return. With Grace and Gratitue let Grief pass through us lightly and be on it’s way. Breath. Love. Love can bear all things.

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    • July 30, 2017 at 6:13 pm
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      Black hole is an excellent description, Garry. Yes! Thus my embrace of evolution, expansion, growth … and grace. Exhaling! XO

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