Saturday, October 13, 2012

The rule book

 "No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear"

                                                Grief is consuming.
It holds the rule book, and if you care to read it you will see there are no breaking the rules of grief. The rules you have known all of your life cease to apply. There are new rules.
1. You will live by these rules the remainder of your life. Just when you think you will be able to break these rules, grief will show you the truth.
2. Grief will be the only thing you feel for a while. Hunger is gone, being tired is gone, wanting to be awake is finished. Any feeling you think you have is only allowed as it relates to grief.
3. Grief will rule your thoughts for quite some time. You may try to think of other "normal" things, but grief will rein. Pick up a book to read, all of the sudden the pages are blank. If someone wants to hold a conversation...the grief is there demanding it's proper attention. 
4. Grief will rule your actions. Just try to go to the's not "normal" anymore. There will be some mother decidedly rude to her small child, now instead of being disgusted with her you feel an overwhelming nausea rise up and it can't always be held back. Don't even let someone ask how many children you have, there's no responding to that one for a while. Or the polite, "have a nice day" is met with immediate thoughts of "NICE? There's nothing nice about losing a child. Burying a child, or actually never even being able to see my child before they were gone!" You may even try to nod and hoping the tears won't spill over behind the sunglasses before you can leave. Sometimes you make it through the store, sometimes the list is forsaken for another time.
5. Grief changes your life. When in doubt, give it a few days and you will realize it still rules.

It has been years, people who meet me never know I've lost a child. It's not something I hide, my children do not hide it. It is just not always as close to the surface as before. As we were sitting around having a "normal" day with some mom reaches over and kisses the palm of her child's hand. Her child is the same age Boaz would be. Tears spill out before I can turn away. Grief fresh and anew...I hold back sobs as I fight thinking...WHEN will this be easier. And the answer is whispered to me again..."I am grief, I have changed all of the rules. Go back and read the book!"

It was a few days since Boaz had passed away, maybe it was a few was all the same to me. I was still having a hard time breathing. I loved to read, it's relaxing, but now I cannot even see words on the page, it is all white. I know the words are there, but my eyes can not see them. My ears...they don't hear normal sounds, things are fuzzy...  You are talking but I'm not hearing, you think I'm not listening on purpose. You think, she won't pay attention, she doesn't want to do anything but think about what happened to her, like no one else has had a loss before her. She's going to drown in her grief, and she wants to. Believe me, grief seems much like drowning in an emotional sense. The feeling of suffocating, there's no air, I can't see clearly...
Or maybe that's not it. Now I can see so clearly. I can see what is so important. I can see that most of what people talk about is so trivial compared with what is really important. My son died, I'm not concerned about trivial things... Like where should we go out to eat or did I hurt your fragile feelings. My son died, I don't care if your dog ran away. I may seem rude or  indifferent, but I have learned the rules have all changed.  Nothing matters that might have mattered before, life has been brought sharply into focus.
It amazed me how many people (who had never lost a child) knew how I should be acting, how much or little I should cry, or sleep, and when I should be doing either. And the most surprising people understood enough to know they had no idea, they accepted what I felt was normal, as we're my actions.
I had "close" friends quit contacting me. Maybe they lacked the words, maybe they grew tired of my missing. Maybe they didn't understand the new rule book.

In the beginning I though I was alone in these thoughts. I didn't know the new rule book was for every parent who lost. Even other people who have experienced a different loss may feel some of these things to an extent. Someone said something that helped me in the beginning. I was having a hard time with being "fine" one moment (understand this is a new fine, don't forget the new rule book) and the grief overtaking me within the next few moments. She (had lost her mother) said the grief comes in like waves. As I thought back to that I remember as a small child going to the beach and wading out until the ocean was up to my chest. As the waves would roll in we would "jump" them sometimes diving into them. Inevitably we would get out a little further and the waves would roll in too quickly. We would barely have time to get a breath before the next wave came crashing across pushing us under and leaving is gasping for air. We would get a little closer to land where we could touch better thinking it would be easier, only to see the waves growing larger and crashing over our heads. Eventually we learned to roll with the waves, accept them as they came, but it didn't change the waves...and we still gasped for air. This is grief...coming in like the sea waves roll. Sometimes all seems calm and breathing is think you've got a handle on things. Then life whispers.."the rule book" as the wave comes crashing in.


  1. Every day leaning on God... because there is absolutely no way we can do this on our own!

    I'm glad He gives us a measure of rest in between the crashing. True rest is coming though. I can't wait for that day!

    Love you, Karen.

  2. Love you Mrs. Karen! I could never truly understand - but I am here and love you and miss you all! Praying for you, that each day will have it's measure of Grace poured out for you :)

    Love - Mrs. Amy W



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