Grief is an interesting emotion...I don't know if you can really call it an "emotion" because the reality is that it is several emotions rolled into a giant ball. Like a bouncy ball losing air, the emotions seem to dissipate little by little, but, like a deflated bouncy ball, it stays in your heart, never really going away.
My experience with real grief came much earlier than some peoples' experiences...earlier than a lot of my friends.
When I was twelve I had the horrifying and heart wrenching experience of literally watching my father die. Its not something I like to dwell on or talk about, but it definitely always makes the end of October difficult.
I wasn't as vocal about my grief as some of my siblings were, I dealt with it in my own way. I internalized it, and kind of became a zombie in my own life. I let the grief choke me, consume me. It wasn't until I was 18 that I was able to let go of my anger. Most people that knew me before that time probably wouldn't have called me an angry person, they wouldn't have even known...it was deep, it was like a festering wound on my heart that wouldn't go away...How did I let it go? Someone was able to see through my facade. A loving Heavenly Father...even though my anger was directed towards him. I couldn't see why He would do that to me, to my family...He was always there, just waiting for the time to come when my grief ball would be deflated enough for me to notice it.
Since then, my grief ball has been sitting on my heart. Some experiences inflate it again a little bit...high school and college graduations, my wedding, the births of my children...it inflates as I wish and wonder what it would have been like to have my dad here to celebrate with us. However, it usually deflates as fast as it inflates. My wedding is a perfect example. The whole morning everyone thought that I was just really stressed out, and in some ways I was...we had an unexpected blizzard, so my plans for taking outdoor pictures at the temple were almost completely thwarted (thank heavens for my awesome bridesmaids, groomsmen, husband, and photographer who were willing to brave the snow anyway)...but it was much deeper than that. I missed my dad. I wanted him there. I wanted him to crack a joke about the blizzard and how it meant good luck or something ominous...I needed him and he wasn't there...
But, once I was in the temple, kneeling at the alter and being sealed for time and all eternity to the most wonderful husband on the planet, my heart was healed and my grief ball deflated when I could feel my dad there. There were a few empty seats on the front row, one right across from me, and I KNEW he was sitting there. I KNEW he was watching and that he loved me and was so, so happy for me...
Moments like this make the grief ball move to the size of a speck, and then it stays as a small speck for 362 days of the year...October 28 is the day that it seems like there is an air pump connected to my grief ball. October 28, my dad's birthday...and then the nightmares come...reliving those terrifying moments from my childhood doesn't exactly make for a decent night's sleep. October 30 is usually the worst...the actual anniversary of his death...which always makes me all the more determined to have an awesome Halloween..I need to celebrate and allow myself to stop focusing on my grief ball to give it some time and reasons to deflate again to speck status.
I always think I'm prepared. In fact, I try to schedule things for that day so that I am so busy that I will forget to recognize what day it is... the last 2 years I succeeded...in 2010, I was getting married and completely wrapped up in wedding plans, last year I had become a mother for the first time and was so sleep deprived that I slept through most of the 28th, 29th and 30th and didn't have one nightmare... So, I was tricked into believing that maybe that part of my grief was over...
It was frustrating to realize I was wrong.
However, God is good. He knows what we need. He blessed me with the BEST husband on the planet (I think I mentioned that earlier, and maybe about a half a million times since I've married him). Even when I think I'm hiding my grief well, he recognizes that something is off. He takes me into his arms, and reminds me that I am so, so loved, and so, so lucky...and all those thoughts and wishes that my dad could be here to see the holiday season with me and my sweet little family start to melt away.
Maybe someday, those nightmares will turn into sweet dreams where I can see him with us. That is my prayer...because I know he wouldn't want me to have nightmares about the night he died anymore. I know he wouldn't want me to be sad.
He is in Heaven, he is doing the work of the Lord. He is with me when I need him, because, if watching Jeff with our sweet little girls has taught me anything, its taught me that a real daddy is always there when you need him.
I am so grateful for the blessings of the temple, and the restored priesthood that makes them possible. I am so grateful to know that I am a part of my dad's eternal family and that I will see him again, be with him again, laugh with him again, and be able to talk and joke with him again. I am so grateful for a loving Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave His life so that we will be able to conquer death. I am grateful for the gospel and the peace I have found because of its plain and simple truths.
For those of you suffering in silence, internalizing your little grief balls (of varying sizes), I say, do not lose hope. You can't lose hope. It does get better...and while some of your pain will linger, it will lessen with time. Don't forget that you are loved. You are not being punished, you are not forgotten. God is there and he will heal you when you are ready to let him in.
Know that there is life after this life. Know that we will all be resurrected with perfect bodies and, through the power of God, the restored priesthood, it is possible for us to live with and be with our lost loved ones again. God is a god of love, he would not, and could not part us for eternity.
Have faith, have hope, and know that you are loved.
Hugs and loves until next time darlings.