We had the VERY talented Hannah of Hannah D Photography take some family photos of us recently. I plan on sharing a few in the next few posts.
I remember thinking vividly during Daniel's pregnancy, "When he comes then I will be happy/free/healed."
I side-eye myself for thinking that now...
I mean, I know where those thoughts came from. They were clinging tightly to the hope that sadness and grief is something one can end. That it is finite. I thought to myself, if I have a baby in my arms to love and snuggle, then my focus can shift and I can stop thinking about what it would be like if James was here.
Losing James brought about an awareness of trials in my life. Before I walked with ease noticing hardship around me but I held it at arms length. Sadness did not need to touch my happy life thank you very much. But when you go through an immense sadness, one that stays around forever, that you think about everyday, that gets easier with time but never ends, you start to analyze how other people handle it all. Do they talk about it still? Do they shove it in the closet and grieve when it bursts out around important dates and occasions? Do they wallow in that sadness, declaring that joy is NOT possible anymore? Are they quiet, sharing with close friends, opening up to only those who they know will not trample upon the tenderness that remains? Do they never talk at all?
It fascinates me really.
Perhaps I thought there was a correct way, after all I lost both of my most beloved grandparents as a teen and it was certainly sad and I cried with real sadness for the first time. I loved them both dearly and often I love thinking about all the amazing memories I got to share with them. But it didn't shake me the way losing a child has, a loss that was so very much a part of me. I lost a part of my life that never was able to come to fruition. It became an existential crisis constantly plaguing my thoughts. If he had lived...who would I be? Would I still be keeping that hard sadness at an arm's length?
I suppose it is obvious that there isn't one correct way, but there are certainly healthy and unhealthy habits associated with grief. The main one being coming to the conclusion that joy is impossible to achieve after loss. It certainly feels that way, pretty much 99% of the time, but I know with a surety that God did not intend for us to be miserable. He does not want sadness to consume our very being.
Sadness and grief and longing and anger are all a part of this mortal experience. We need to know these emotions, these deep and difficult feelings. We need to acknowledge them but not run away with them.