My Grief Plan

I had a plan.  I’d take care of this.  I’m practical.  I am not overly sentimental.  I believe in mind over matter.  I analyze situations and I solve problems.  That’s what I do.  Here was a problem.  Here is my plan.  Now let’s get on with life.  But sometimes life just doesn’t “get on” according to plan.

Reality hit for me a few weeks after reality had arrived.  It was the moment when the surgeon who had done the colon resection shook Jeff’s hand, holding it tighter and longer than a typical hand shake, put his other hand over the top, looked him in the eyes for a long moment and said, “Good luck.”  THEN  I knew.  We’d been told the odds, but then my heart knew.  The surgeon knew he was looking at a dead man walking.  I knew.

The grieving started then, really.  We had brief moments of hope.  We tried so many things to save him that that at times we nearly killed him.  We had ups and downs, curves in the road with no light visible at the end.  We had countless days in the hospital; endless hours at the doctors’ offices; boxes of medications and schedules at which they should be taken; labs and scans and preps that left one feeling like a pin cushion and exhausted; many sleepless nights- some due to pain, some due to interruption from medical problems, personnel and treatments, and some due to grieving- working it through together as much as we could, knowing at some point I’d be left to do it on my own.

One can prepare as much as possible.  And I suppose it helps.  But despite the preparation, there’s still the getting through.  It still must be done. 

Grief looks different for everyone.  Mine exhibited itself one hammer hit at a time taking down the walls of my house.  There are faster and less messy ways to remove walls, but it was about the right speed for grieving.   Eventually I didn’t cry every time I picked up the hammer.  

Step two of the grieving plan:  Post a story about Jeff every night for 30 days.  Then I’d be ready to move on.  Got to about day nine and had things come to mind that needed to be dealt with privately.  Talked more with the grief counselor.  Took her my writings.  “Oh, you are doing so well.”  Really?  “It never looks pretty or feels well, but you’re doing well.”  I’ll agree with the not looking or feeling well part.  “Keep writing.  Keep talking.”  OK. 

Back to the plan- now a bit altered.  Go to Florida with the kids and my friend.  She’ll watch the kids while I read grief books and cry my eyes out- thus allowing me to get back home and get on with life.  My friend had a different idea.  She brought a story about the love of God- endless and unchanging- through thick and thin- yearning for my love in return.  I read that instead.  And it blessed me.  And I grew just a little. 

Then came better days.  Days of relief.  Days of knowing seasons change.  Life DOES go on.  But the ocean of grief would well up unannounced and wash over me, temporarily taking away my sight of the horizon.  How to keep life going?  One moment at a time.  One Word of Truth at a time.  One prayer at a time. 

I still have my plan and still have my grief.   At times I run circles around it, jump over it, race madly from it, or determinedly walk away, but inevitably I come back to it.  It evolves with time.  God also has a plan- to give me hope and a future.  His plan doesn’t change.  His plan is undoubtedly much more gentle and healing than mine.  His plan is so patient and forgiving.  His plan knows my desire to please Him despite my humanness.  His plan knows the end from the beginning and what yet lies ahead- for which He is preparing me today.  His plan is more gracious and saving than mine could ever dream to be.

 My heart will never be the same.  Part of it has been given away.  But it will grow larger.  And it will be better for having walked with God, for having spent time cradled in His hands, for having learned to rely on Him through the pain.  Some day, by God’s grace, my plan will look like His.

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