“Life is loss.” -Ann Voskamp
This week I received a text from my mom asking for prayers because Dad was taking Grandpa to the hospital. He was showing symptoms of a stroke. These are the texts that make your heart drop. The text warning of death, but it could just be a scare. I received one about my grandma a year and a half ago and completely broke down when I received it.
Therefore, this time around I was determined not to get worked up until I had more facts, so I kept busy and distracted at work. This turned out to be a good decision because a while later I received a text that they thought it was just Lyme disease. Not great, but treatable, not life threatening.
But then a few hours later I received another text. It’s not Lyme disease, it’s a brain tumor. They are taking Grandpa by ambulance to St. Cloud for an MRI and consult from a neurologist. Not good. But I decided not to think too hard about it yet. I sent out a few texts to close friends asking for prayers, but kept on at work.
Later that night I got more confirmation that it doesn’t look good. The tumor is deep and probably not operable, but we won’t know until morning. I hang up and keep on what I’m doing. We don’t know anything…yet. When we know, I’ll deal.
The news came almost 24 hours later: 2-12 months. My throat became heavy as I began to think of the implications, but I still went on with what I was doing. Finally on the ride home, I let myself pray to God about the implications, about what I would miss about Grandpa, about what it would be like to see him now with some of his cognitive abilities reduced, what it would be like to see those I love go through grief, and just the fact that all things in life come to an end. It’s funny has it quickly snowballs- when you’re sad, you try to think of all the sad things possible to keep the emotion alive.
But I also realized I’ve never been through grief- not real grief. I’ve never lost anyone super close to me. I don’t even know how to grieve. The people pleaser in me automatically turned my thoughts to “how should I grieve? what do people expect?” Which I realized was ridiculous. Grief is one of the few things people give you the liberty to act in whichever way you want.
So, I asked myself- how do I really feel?
I’m sad. I feel this hollow eeriness knowing death and loss is near me and I don’t like it. I’m trying to keep it at bay and not think about or deal with.
I’m not angry. I know death is a normal part of life and to expect it.
I’m a little bit in denial and ignoring it. I’m sad, but I also don’t want that to derail my everyday life. Is it insensitive to go about my everyday life? Am I heartless if I’m not sad all the time? I don’t want to tell everyone. I just want to deal with it on my own and with the few select people I choose. Is that healthy?
I don’t like how it takes control away from me. Death and pain always messes with your plans and your emotions. I don’t like not knowing what will come next in this situation and being in this awful limbo of uncertainty and pain. It has kept me extremely present and in the moment. I’ve been noncommittal on plans and invitations (very rare for me) and super productive at work. Maybe that’s part of the denial.
So that’s what I’m learning about myself in this process. There will be much more to learn as I walk through this difficult season with my family and walk through many more as life progresses. The one thing I can trust and remember is that all is grace and all is in His hands.
“Surely just as I have intended, so it has happened, and just as I have planned, so it will stand.” -Isaiah 14:24