Posted by: Terri Johnston Fraracci | May 27, 2012

About this thing called grief

Truth of the matter is that I have spent the last five years attempting to crawl out of a deep, dark well, carved out of grief.

In the beginning I didn’t even try to climb out. I didn’t care to see the sunshine, smell the fresh air, set myself free. I didn’t see the sense in re-entering a world that was minus my son. The walls of the well became my home.

Eventually, the gentle tugs of the rest of my precious loved ones, and a God who patiently waited as I made my peace with what I thought He had done, inspired me to at least try. And so I began to emerge ever so slowly. It is hard to say which was more painful at that point; embracing the light of the life that went on around me or remaining in the darkness of my grief.

I would pull myself up to the rim, look around with trepidation, step out for a time, and then dive back in because it was too much; or fall back in, exhausted by the effort to be okay, to contribute to a world that I wasn’t sure was worth it, to embrace a life that I felt had betrayed me.

In the last couple of years, I began to spend more and more time above the ground. I didn’t live on the surface just yet, but I frequented it more often, for longer periods of time, and I began to start needing the light more than I needed the darkness.

Today I can say that I live here again, but sometimes, even now, grief will come out of nowhere and stab me, and I will go scurrying for the security of that thick, heavy, gray blanket at the bottom of my well; but more often than not, I will only visit for a brief time. I no longer need to live out of the light to be okay. 

Why am I telling you this? I’m telling you this because those of you lovingly waiting at the surface often don’t understand why grieving people don’t just climb out. You understand that it may take time, but you don’t understand the true nature of grief unless you have been there. And I’m telling you this because if you are the one grieving, giving yourself a hard time because you can’t just snap out of it, I want you to give yourself a pass. It’s a process, not an event. It’s up and down, gently climbing, sometimes falling, sometimes plateauing, never straight up, but up, all the same.

What I have learned is this:

I will never be the same again and that I’m okay with that now. I don’t need to be the same. I’m not supposed to be the same. My life has changed. I’m okay with that now.

I needed to stay in that well then, and I want to stay out of the well now.

In between, I needed to let the journey unfold in my own way and accept it as it was; not push myself to make it what I thought, or what others thought, it should be.

I have also learned that when I step out to help others, even when it scares me – especially when it scares me – it helps me. Sometimes that means inspiring others to reach for spiritual goals that I am reaching for myself. Sometimes it means just helping in any way I can. Sometimes it means listening to the pain of another with the same patience, compassion, and lack of judgment that others have gifted me with. I can do that now. A lot of the time it means deciding to engage rather than retreat. I can do that much of the time now too.

And I have learned that once I was ready, all the time helping others means moving back into my light, little step by little step. I think one of God’s greatest gifts to us is the way that turning out to others somehow heals how we feel within.

So about this thing called grief: When you lose someone close to you, it doesn’t ever go away. You don’t just stop missing them. But if you allow the process to take place, you allow yourself to heal enough to go back out there and live. Will you stay out of the well? I don’t know. I don’t think I will, but I am satisfied that my life in the darkness of grief has traded places with life in the light; no longer being my home, but a place I tend to visit less and less now.

 

Note to my amazing family and friends: The greatest gift you have ever given me is allowing me to grieve freely, in my own way. I will never be able to find the words to express how grateful I am to you for your steadfast love, patience, compassion, and sensitivity. Thank you.

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Responses

  1. Sometimes deep down in the well, where it seems like eternal darkness and even despair, God touches there and the sorrow becomes like a beacon that connects us to God’s love as our hearts open in utter grief we are vulnerable and the pain is piercing but somehow also allows us to experience a purity and depth of divine connection because all the barriers have been ripped away in grief. God Bless. xox

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  2. Terri,
    You’re an amazing person with strength that is far above many others. We have met at those dark places in the soul and came together in pain and joy. I love that you’ve posted this for Memorial Day. It reminds us that grief is a part of living. It’s a process not an event. I never was shy of grief, as you expressed we are not the same after experiencing it and that’s okay. We grow and love and live.
    Love you Terri,
    Eileen

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    • Thank you Eileen. Yes we have met there, and both the better for the connection I think. That’s how God works. Thank you :).

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  3. Thank you so much for that wonderful post. We were so fortunate to have you by our side when we lost our son, Craig. As much as we think everyone understands our pain of losing a child, I never fully understood until God called our son home. May God bless you. Continued thanks for all you are and what you do. We love you so much.

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    • Aunt Jeannie and Uncle Jim,
      You are most welcome. Thank you for your kind words. I’m so sorry that you have joined this club that nobody wants to be in. It’s an understanding I would have rather not seen come to you.
      I’m grateful that I could come up beside you as you did for me, and that it would bring you comfort. Some day we will all stand together in God’s House. Count on it.
      I Love You,
      Terri

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  4. So very well said. Thank you…

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  5. Had a friend tell me that they want the old Connie back..I told them I would never ever be the same person I was after losing 2 of my children at ages 25 and 23 less than 7 weeks apart..they dont seem to understand why I cant be the same.

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    • Hi Connie,
      I’m so sorry for your loss. I think our loved ones just want us back. They don’t understand unless they suffer the same kind of loss, and, of course, we don’t want them to learn through experience. You are in my prayers.

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