A couple of years ago I went to a writer’s conference up in the Colorado Rocky Mountains at Estes Park. Oh my goodness, it’s such a gorgeous place to be. My husband, kids and pets came along with me. We stayed in a small two bedroom hotel for two nights. While I was at the conference the kids went trout fishing and exploring through the wilderness.
In the evenings when my husband picked me up we would have dinner by the lake. The kids were so proud to share their fish with mommy. They weren’t really into eating the fish. It was the joy of being together sharing picnic food and watching the sun set that mattered.
I treasure moments in life like this. It was a great time and yet my inner world was filled with grief. I felt a sadness that I thought I had to keep inside of me. My world around me was awesome. However, inside of me was an ocean of tears waiting to burst.
I can’t let these tears come pouring out of me I thought to myself. Physically I was with my family, but internally I was busy denying my feelings. Minimizing hurt, anger, and withholding any thoughts or memories that might make me cry. This indeed was and is a draining way to live life.
Sometime and somewhere in my life I got the message that sadness is not o.k. I hear these words in my head, “Oh don’t be sad, it will be o.k.” And dang-it, it’s not o.k.
I will minimize my feelings by telling myself. “Lisa you should be thankful and look at how great life is.”
I was an internal mess at the conference. I sat in the back of the room, with a stomach ache, and a heaviness that couldn’t verbally be explained. I didn’t feel like talking to anyone and I was passive when others smiled at me. I smiled but I couldn’t engage. This was a great place to network and make friends. I wanted to build relationships, but it was too hard to reach out and connect. I wasn’t being real with myself and I didn’t feel that others would want to know me. I was convinced that the brokenness inside of me was too much and I didn’t want to burden anyone.
The speakers at this conference were very inspirational and sincere. It was exciting and tears ran down my cheeks all the time. I was exhausted at the end of the day trying to stop myself from crying. It was too hard for me to stay in the moment and let them roll. I walked around the conference with red eyes and tired feet. When I look back over that weekend I see safe people who were concerned for me. They wanted to reach out to me but I chose to be closed off.
Today I realize, that God put me in a safe place with safe people. I believe that God took me there so that I could share my story with others. I can see now looking back that others wanted to know me. God wanted me to be comforted and He wanted to bring healing.
My son is teaching me how to grieve. His Grandpa who is my Dad died just a few months before the conference and I thought I could handle going to the conference as if nothing happened. This is an impossible thing to do.
My seven year old cries for Grandpa and he talks about him whenever he wants too. I watch my son work through his grieving and it’s a beautiful thing. It’s real, refreshing, and honest. Two years later and out of nowhere he will sob. I want to be able to do that too.
This used to make me uncomfortable. I don’t want my boy to be sad. Thankfully I’ve kept my mouth shut and let him grieve. I never once told him it will be o.k. Because dang-it, it’s not o.k. Missing someone hurts.
Grieving for someone doesn’t go away and it shouldn’t. It’s o.k. to miss the one we love. My son is struggling with the fact that he didn’t get to say goodbye and that Grandpa didn’t say goodbye. Unfortunately I had no choice or control in this matter.
I wish things were set up in a way that my children had closure. My son is hurting because of this.
Closure is important and being allowed to freely feel is normal. What’s not normal is when adults shove pain under the rug and expect kids or themselves to carry on as if nothing happened. God didn’t design us to be that way.
A few months ago I realized that I need to create an event for my son to say goodbye. We got a balloon and took it to the park. Justin prayed to God asking him to take care of Grandpa and he let the balloon go. As we walked back to our car. Justin looked up in the sky and asked Grandpa to let him know when he gets the balloon. Seconds later a few raindrops came from the sky. Justin stopped, smiled, and said, “Mommy, Grandpa is telling me that he got the balloon!!!”
And now my reading friends, tears are running down my cheeks and I’m not going to stop them from coming.
It’s o.k. to feel and grieve. Don’t hold the tears back. Let them wash over you and let others join you.
When others hurt, pause for a moment, stay with them, and don’t tell them that everything is going to be alright. Because dang-it, it’s not o.k.
Sad is healthy.
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