We’ve noticed a new trend that started right about one month after Sam passed. People began to tell us how we were doing. They stopped asking. Steven says he think it’s because the people around us want us to be doing fine. I’ve heard the same complaint from almost every bereaved mother I’ve come into contact with. At some point, everyone starts telling the griever that they are fine. It’s hard to watch someone suffer. So they say, “You seem to be doing fine!” even when we begin the conversation with the honest statement, “We are in a dark stretch. Life is pretty tough.” I think it’s hard to be around people who are not fine, but have no ability whatsoever to fix what is making us not fine. We don’t have a lot to offer right now–not even a solution to what ails us. But, really, the best thing our friends can do for us when we say, “We are in a dark place,” is to acknowledge that the dark place is very real, say they’re sorry we are there, and ask how they can minister to us while we’re there. Maybe we’ll say there is nothing we need, but it’s encouraging just to have our place in life affirmed.
The worst thing someone can do is to try to pull us out of the dark place. There is a season for everything. Now is the time to grieve. And it will still be time to grieve until it isn’t time anymore. That time span is not available for critique. Its movement will be determined by the Holy Spirit. I have sharp boundaries about this, and I feel a great deal of peace about it. I’ve surrounded myself with people who will help me enforce those boundaries. And I am okay with my friends saying, “I’m sorry you’re in a dark place,” and having no solution. I am okay with this not being fixed right now.
I think before all of this happened, I thought of grief as a detour. God takes me off into a dark valley, transforms me, and sets me back on the high road when He is finished. I am realizing now that my path has been permanently altered. I will never be the same person. I will never be reinstalled to the high road I was on. I will never relate to my pre-Sam friends the same. The old Megan will never emerge. I grieve losing her too. She was innocent.
I look forward to finding the new Megan. She will be joyful. She will laugh. Already I see her sometimes. Already I laugh. She will be a good mother. She will be a good writer. She will be a good wife. She will be creative and alive. But she will also know what she can lose. And maybe that’s a loss, but maybe it’s a gain. Not all mothers are given that gift. It’s given at a great price, but I truly believe it is a gift.
My friend Rachel, who lost her twin babies two years ago, said to me, “Time will not heal you.” So true. Time does not heal all wounds. Otherwise, no one would need therapy to talk through their childhood. Grief is work. Sometimes grief is a fight to just survive the day–wake up, eat three meals, go to bed. Sometimes grief is a choice to connect, to fight the urge to isolate. Sometimes it is crying. Sometimes it is letting go. Sometimes it is hanging on. It is active and intentional toward the new path. Grief is not waiting for this to pass after a few months. Time will pass, but my sweet baby’s body will still be in the grave. Grief is learning to wait. This has to be made right. I have to wait for it to be made right.
Our friends, whether they realize it or not, are getting to know new people every time they spend time with us. Those who are waiting for us to be the same, waiting for us to emerge, will be disappointed. We’re not coming back. It’s tough, but anyone who has grieved will say it’s a reality. We will lose friends along the way. Our paths will not intersect the same way they did before. We’re seeing some amazing strides as our friends make an effort to stay with us, but we’re also seeing paths heading back up to the high road. The truth is that that is understandable, but I would be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed. This place we’re in and the people we are right now… it’s pretty dark… but there’s treasure to be had. Of this I am confident.