Every Wednesday

Every Wednesday, I will post something about grief. Sometimes it will be a reflection on an aspect of grief’s landscape. Now and then I will share from my own journey of grief, because in the sharing of our stories we find strength and build a community of people that support one another. To follow, please leave your email address.

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Turning Away




When loved ones die, we eventually have to turn away from them if we are going to move on with our lives. It’s not one big turning we do, but hundreds of small movements, and some are made for us.

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I turned away from Evelyn when I took that first breath in the ICU and she did not.

I turned away when I left her room the last time, and left my hope for a miracle on the floor.

I turned away when I fell asleep in my chair at home, unable to stay awake, even as I listened for a phone call to tell me it was all a mistake, the diagnosis was wrong, and she, unexpectedly, woke up.

I turned away when I eventually began to eat again, thus saying that I would not be dying with her.

I turned away when I ended my week’s vigil and returned to work.

I turned away after the memorial service, feeling that with the ritual of the dead, she was officially gone.

I turned away when I stopped praying after 49 days for her safe passage to her new place, feeling there was nothing more I could do.

I turned away when I began to think of where I would go from here, because it acknowledged that my life was going to be different than what I had with her.

I turned away from Evelyn when my grief became more about my sorrow and less about her life.

I turned away from life because of death.

I turned hard into the darkness because of grief.

But I do not turn away from grief. I walk with it through the Valley of the Shadows to the other side of the mountains to find what is left.

By the time I make the conscious decision to turn away and let her go, I have already, unknowingly, turned away a thousand times. Yet this decision is the hardest one. It breaks my heart, and it turns me back towards grief. But this turning also takes me deeper into love and opens me up.

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