Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Grieving Progress Report

I've had a lot of "windshield time" today, and the blackberry has been pretty quiet. So I've had an opportunity to reflect... do a little self-check-up. Ask my self the question I get dozens of times a day... "How are you doing?"

It's been a weird week, emotionally. Previously, every minute of every day was FILLED with the thought of Leslie. Sweet memories. That ache of loss and loneliness in the pit of my stomach. The palpable sorrow and grief, mixed with that senseless peace and inexplicable quiet joy that she had "won". The services were truly what kept me going, as I said in a previous post-- they were just a perfect time of grieving, closure, celebration, and healing. But now that the memorial services are over, I suddenly feel like it all happened so long ago. I hate that my mind seems to be trying to "file it and move on". I know it's a subconscious coping mechanism, and a horrible "man-trait". But part of me wants to get back to living as if nothing has changed... Just make the adjustments and get back to living. Several times a day, I'll reach for my phone to call her, just to check in. Then I'll get angry with myself. "How can I FORGET?! How could I let that feeling leave me for that moment!? How could I let myself get distracted by the task at hand, or the details and events of the day?! Now, get back to MISSING her! Back to grieving!". But it's not something I can just manufacture-- that ache in my soul. I can't turn it off and on. It just comes and goes on its own. And I HATE to admit that, yes, it indeed has been "gone" at times, these past few days. I hate that now, frankly, at any moment for any period of time during the day, I can be doing pretty well. Feeling fine.

The flip side is that it works the other way, too. There are moments when I should be having fun, enjoying myself, etc. But I can't. I'm just miserable. And then others when I'm doing fine when BAM! Out of nowhere I "spontaneously combust" into tears and grief-- only for a moment, but SO intensely. Something usually triggers these outbursts- the other night it was a picture on the mantle that caught my eye. BAM! Today, it was talking to a friend I hadn't talked to since before she died. BAM!

But I feel guilty when I catch myself in the act of "being happy" or "feeling good". (I know it's stupid. "False guilt" perhaps.) I'll have a good day at work. Play and giggle with TJ. Feel that "high" I get after a good workout. And I just get the feeling that it's not right to feel this good, not even 2 months after she's gone. It's not fair for me to enjoy myself so much, doing things that we both used to enjoy together... living the life that once was OURS.

And then I get thinking about her joy and peace and perfect unity with her Savior today... what she's experiencing right now. And I think to myself, "you think she'd even WANT to trade what she's got now just to share a little more earthly pleasure with YOU? Get OVER yourself! She's in a better place, now." But that doesn't really make me feel any better. I think maybe I need to go back and re-read my post about being "filled up vs. poured out". God, grant me grace today. Allow me (as a friend advised yesterday) to grant mySELF grace on these matters...

So yeah. That's what I'm thinking about what I'm thinking, this week. Feeling about what I'm feeling. Or whatever. We'll call it a periodic "progress report".


Jay said...

You told me the first thing Leslie did her final week when she realized it was coming to an end was to think about how you and TJ were going to handle it. I'm sure she would be happy to know you are having more moments of joy (or at least enjoyment) once again.
Love you, Jay

Henny said...

That's exactly how it works T. It comes in waves and you're not sure if the trigger will be happy or sad. Whatever it is, just let the wave happen, and know that its ok either way. There's no rulebook for grief and its an emotional rollercoaster that you have to ride. Praying for you friend.

Anonymous said...


It's good to hear that you are having those moments of just feeling good. Leslie wouldn't want you to live every minute of your life in pain and agony. I think she would have been relieved to know you would have moments when you "feel good" again.
Thank you so much for the memorial service here. It was great to gather with friends to grieve, celebrate and worship together. I loved meeting Leslie's family and seeing the photos of her life.
Thanks for all you do to lead us in worship. Praying for you, TJ and your family.
Emily N.

Kim said...

Hi Tyson,
I have been reading your blog for some time now. Soon after Leslie's last surgery. I knew Leslie in the young group. I was more Chris's age...but anyway, I have been praying for your family and have been so touched by your blog.
I was a witness to my friend being hit by a car when I was 10 years old. The feeling of guilt when having fun was something that stayed with me a long time. Your honesty touched my heart. Just wanted to encourage you that what you are feeling is "normal".
I also married a man who lost his wife and was left with 4 children. They struggled with this same feeling (and sometimes still do). God is so good and so faithful. I know that you have found this to be true and will continue to experience it!

Press on!

Auntie Gayle said...

Hey, Ty, thanks for the update. I have nothing to add to what the previous bloggers have said so well. This is new "territory" for many of us---struggling with grief at this level. You are grieving well, honestly---Leslie would be proud of you! Did I say I have nothing to add?----well, you know me....pressing on...with you,
Auntie Gayle

Anonymous said...

Tyson -
When someone close to me passed away a friend gave me a note saying, "Grief cannot be dry cleaned away ... it must be washed in tears." Still praying in Peoria.

Anne said...

Alot of thoughts come to mind as I read this entry. The well that is dug in our sorrow is the same well that holds our joy. You cannot grieve deeply and unto life without also expanding your capacity for joy...."Joy and sorrow deeply mingled; yes the glory of the Cross." Also this poem which I have never heard until tonight:
"..The sunshine is a glorious birth; but yet I know, where'er I go,That there hath past away a glory from the earth....Now,while the birds thus sing a joyous song, And while the young lambs bound as to the tabor's sound,To me alone there came a thought of grief: a timely utterance gave that thought relief,and I again am strong:...
Ye blessed Creatures, I have heard the call....The fullness of your bliss I feel--I feel it all. Oh evil day if I were sullen while Earth herself is adorning, --But there's a Tree, of many, one, a single Field which I have looked upon, Both of them speak of something that is gone:...
What though the radiance which was once so bright be now for ever taken from my sight, Though nothing can bring back the hour of splendour in the grass, of glory in the flower; we will grieve not, rather find Strength in what remains behind;.."

Tyson - it is both/and. Deep sorrow - and also an ability to continue on - to take joy in the beauty still here - and to find strength in what was..and in what remains. And although the poem speaks of something "for ever gone" - we know that in Christ Leslie will be with you and TJ again - in "the blink of an eye" if we could see spiritually.
You are doing so well Tyson. Keep clinging to the cross - and to the One who upon it set us free unto Life.
(The poem is from Intimations of Immortality by Wordsworth)

JudyBright said...

I guess you're meta-feeling right now.

I lost my son over 3 1/2 years ago and one thing I resolved to do early on is to not let anyone else (including myself) judge how I was grieving or dealing with what happened. I could cry as much or as little as I wanted or feel joy whenever. Feeling that grief and closeness to Leslie is a gift, but the moments where you just live and "forget" are a gift too. Those moments where you are reminded by something and are hit with a burst of emotion may get further apart, but they won't go away. I'm confident that I love my son, and I don't need to cry every day or think of him every moment to "prove" it to anyone.

That false guilt is Satan trying to condemn you. Tell him where he can stick it.

(Judy from Ed's blog)

Wee said...

I totally agree with what Judy just said. It's been 9 1/2 years since we ushered my sister into eternity, and I still have moments where something or someone will trigger a memory of her or a special time spent with her, and, it's true, you don't know when that will happen or how the response will be, but just let it happen. A quote that meant a lot to me after she died is, "When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory become a treasure." It is also very cleansing to treasure those memories of our loved one who has left us for a short time.

Anonymous said...

I was in a car accident with my two best friends, two cousins and my cousin's boyfriend. My two best friends and one cousin in the back seat with me were killed. Dealing with that grief was a battle for me, especially when I was happy and having fun. I too, felt guilty and felt I didnt have a right to enjoy life since they were gone. I shared this feeling with the parents of one of my best friends and her father said something I will never forget- "You can't live for the dead, you have to live for the living." Having lost his own daughter and having him tell me that I had every right to enjoy life, gave me a feeling of freedom to do just that. There are still times I grieve over the loss of their lives and what might have been, but I can always remember those words and it helps.
Keeping you and TJ in my prayers-

Marci said...

Tyson, We are praying for you and TJ here in Milford, IN. Leslie would be amazed with you, thanks for allowing God to work in you through your heartache. He is not finished yet!

Brittany Gerber said...

You'll never know how many people are still checking your blog a day just hoping for an update on you and little TJ. It means so much that you keep us involved and updated! We love you!
Byron & Britt

Julie said...


I don't know your family at all, I followed the link on a friend's blog to yours today. I just wanted to say that we will pray for you, I've lost some very important people in my life (never a spouse, but others), and I know exactly how your feeling. May God bless.

Jilli said...

Leslie would WANT you to be happy!! I'm sure it makes her happy to know that there are moments in your life where this is joy. Don't feel guilty!