Messy Mornings: 3 Choices I Have Each Day
Early in my personal grief journey, sometimes one of the hardest times of the day was freshly waking up. A healthy deep sleep seemed to whisk me away into some sense of peace and calm. The reality of the pain of grief took a brief reprieve and for just a brief handful of seconds upon waking, my life felt, blissful and comfortable. It felt like he was here in our home, and the routine was typical. Sadly, it wouldn’t take long for the reality of my husband’s death to come crashing in like a fresh wave pelting rocks on a shoreline. Followed by a deep sense of hopeless despair that would arrive and stick around for the whole day.
A few months into my grief, mornings involved a different flavor of difficult. Traumatic dreams would fill the night and there was no bliss when waking, just an instant sort of nauseous feeling, like being forced to watch and relive the heart breaking details of that traumatic event of his death against my will. Or dreams of being with him again and then losing him in death again in some other sort of way.
After a year or so of rough mornings, I seemed to awake not as surprised by my present situation. Seeing his car in the driveway, which never leaves for work, never waking up with him beside me and the long list of sad realities became the new normal I never asked for.
So that takes us to the present. In October, I will have lived two years without the love of my life. Two years of raising our children without him. Two years of talking about him in the past tense. Two years of trying desperately to keep him alive by speaking of him often, yet knowing deep down my words alone aren’t ever enough to fill that dreadful void in the center of my being.
Now that the two year mark, has nearly come, I wish I could say that my mornings are more filled with hope and less marked by emptiness and pain. Sadly, I cannot. This weekend was a harder one, and I started Saturday with a painful dream and a heavy heart. I sat at the kitchen table, slumped down, head leaning over discouraged and talked to God a bit, all the while hearing steady “Mom I need this,” or “Mom, Can you do that…” in the background.
It seems that at this point in my journey, I have three options I can choose to fix my mind on at the start of each new day, and I have the hardest time on some days to settle my thoughts on the best option.
1) I can fixate on the loss. Its painful details and images. The life I had and lost. I could imagine all the ways the present would have been so wonderful had he still been here and I could picture the fun that I think I would have had or the love we would have shared. Clearly this type of thought process does little to lift my spirits. It holds me in the past and paints sorrow all over any glimmer of positive that tries to shine in my present day.
2) I can let my mind be all consumed by anxieties and “what if’s?” and wondering about the future.
Will I ever have a great husband/ marriage again? How could anyone ever be as wonderful as my husband was? What if I get really sick with no one to care for me? What if I lose my elderly parents? What if my sons never have a Daddy again and never get to see a great marriage lived out before them? What if I am always alone? What if I never feel hope or happiness again? This type of thinking can be so dangerous. Anxiety has a way of quickly multiplying when given a little attention in the mind, one anxiety gives birth to another and before you know it, I am overwhelmed and certainly not feeling peaceful.
3) I can choose this far better, yet far harder option. I can fight against my hard wiring to get stuck on these first two options and force myself to choose a different outlook. This is where my faith in Christ comes in. I can remind myself there is a sure hope, because even the darkest days on earth cannot change the fact that my husband is in heaven, and one day I will be there too.
I can choose to speak things that I may not feel but I know are true. God is with me. God can heal my brokenness. God loves me. There is a good future for me ahead that I am not aware of yet. God will provide the things I need for myself and my children.
I can choose to name blessings and be thankful even for little things and remind myself that things could be different. I am in good health and able to take care of my two sons as their solo parent. I don’t have cancer or another disease that hinders me from smoothly keeping up with them. I have a warm home in a safe quiet neighborhood. I am not living in a third world country without clean drinking water or a neighborhood filled with violence or a cardboard box in a homeless community. I had the gift of the great marriage and our two precious sons. Some live their whole lives and never know the joy of true love or motherhood.
It is in going against the grain and straining to put my mind on the right things each morning that seems to make me far better at putting one step in front of the other to get through the new day. Some days it seems I crawl through with little strength and barely make it. Some days I cry my way through. But each day that I choose to keep moving forward and not give up is a victory no matter how small.
What helps you to start each day as you journey through grief?
In Hope & Prayers,
This Widow Mama