As I shared from the books I read in April yesterday and looked back on what I posted, I realized that I had wanted to share a very special quote with you from Jan’s book and a message from her that I forgot to add.
Her book, Surrounded by Love, is also available here in Central Illinois at the Forsyth, Decatur and Champaign libraries.
Lately it seems so many have dealt with grief.
Losses due to aging, losses that seem unfair and too young, losses en masse.
Just this week, on the road we are so familiar with that brings us back home every time we visit Tia, a huge pileup due to a freak dust storm took at least seven lives and injured thirty people.
It is hard to wrap our minds around the sorrow of losing people we love.
In the last pages of Surrounded by Love, Jan says this about a book she had read entitled “Experiencing Grief” where the author (H. Norman Wright) depicted grief as a page of scribble art:
My feelings in those first raw and messy months after Dad died formed patterns that meandered, reversed, looped, scattered; jarred me into filing spaces with dark colors that battled and bled through lines. I had naively pictured grief as a neat linear process, one that would end when I was done. Instead, no two days ever looked alike.
The same is still true. Sometimes a bright dandelion yellow space runs right into raw Sienna. Maybe it’s an early morning sunrise that cuts through clouds; a maple tree flaunting fall colors; a cardinal fluffing his feathers in my backyard birdbath. My eyes tear and throat tightens. My dad is dead, I think, my breath catching. How is that possible?Surrounded by Love: My Family’s Journey Through ALS, Jan Schmitz Mathew; Corby Books, 2020; pg 184
As I read her words, I feel seen and understood.
As the years pass, I grieve my father differently. His last years were often difficult and painful. His passing brought relief to me as he was no longer tormented and angry with me for what he couldn’t understand.
My grief had been much as she depicts in her words above while he was still with us. But now as the years bring healing, it is a different and kinder grief. I grieve as she said when little things come unexpectedly that remind me of his better years.
I can see more clearly with time and distance, how much he loved us and how it was his great purpose to make life better for his family every day. Grief takes many forms and is not only a process, but a transforming work as we never return to “normal.”
We are changed and move into a new kind of normal that continues to morph and change over the years. As Jan says, we can choose to be bitter or we can work in and through the seasons of loss and life and use the lessons gleaned to encourage others. I am so grateful she chose to do this with her story.
I pray for anyone who can relate to the depiction of grief from my friend Jan.
I pray you know that there is no time frame for being “done.” As we lose people we love, through whatever circumstances, the hole they leave on planet earth or, depending on circumstances, in our daily life, is real and painful.
Cry when you need to, laugh when you can, sit in the moment for a moment and let Jesus hold you.
Reach out to a friend or family member and tell them you love them.
Sleep and rest, eat healthily, take walks outside, read the Psalms.
Perhaps pick up a pen and write your thoughts or a box of crayons and scribble a picture.
Consider sharing it with someone someday when they need someone to help them voice their grief.
And always remember, you are not alone and you are deeply loved <3