Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Grace in Grieving

As we approach March 19, the emotions of 2015 have been bubbling to the service even more.

It was a tough year -- 2015 -- a really tough year.

Mid-March, Selah was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.  That shook me to the core.  Three weeks later Trinity was also diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes.  Numbness was the word I  used to describe my state initially.  My mom was hospitalized with pneumonia the same day Trinity was diagnosed but released 10 days later.  However, a week after that she was rehospitalized and within 2 weeks of that she passed away from end stages of COPD -- a fact none of us kids knew prior to this last hospitalization.

To say I was hit hard, knocked to the ground, and stomped on was an understatement.

As I dealt with the newness of our girls' diagnoses and the overwhelming fear and stress that comes with learning to manage diabetes, I was also thrust into decision maker mode for everything that transpired with my mom.

Her hospitalization, bringing in hospice, and ultimately her death definitely diverted the severe grief I had been harboring since the girls diagnosis.

At the time I thought it was good that I wasn't dwelling on the grief that life's circumstances had thrust upon me.  However, I've come to realize that I wasn't allowing myself to grieve openly.  For either the girls or my mom.  I was in 'action' mode.

Others not living our life couldn't understand the level of grief I was experiencing.  The girls were now 'fine' so what was wrong with me?

I now know I took those comments, those innuendoes to heart and I stifled my own grief.  At least to the outside world.  I did cry. I did recoil.  I tried to write about it, but I never felt loved through it. I tried to put on a 'strong face'.  I tried to push the emotions down when they'd surface.  I didn't know how much that impacted me until later.

Don't get me wrong, Techno loved me through it all.  Our children supported me and helped me cope. A few friends did in fact reach out and try to learn and understand. But, the masses?  I perceived that my grieving was 'out of the norm' from most.

About the same time as my mom's death, we learned Selah also had Hashimoto's Disease and Celiac.   Then by the end of the year we discovered Elijah has Celiac as well.  In addition, he now has to wear a back brace 23 hours a day for Scheurmann's Kyphosis; praying it will help prevent spinal fusion surgery.

I continued to grieve. Slowly. Bitterly.

I came to realize I was angry.

Angry at myself for grieving so much.  So hard.  So long.  When the tears would erupt out of nowhere, I'd lash out at myself wondering why they wouldn't stop.

Angry at others for making me feel like I was wrong to be grieving as much or as long as I was.

Angry that some didn't reach out; didn't lend a shoulder to cry on.

Angry that Techno seemed to be able to move past the grief and I wasn't.

Maybe even angry that it all happened when and how it did.  So fast. So close.

Recently I've learned to give myself grace in grieving.  My grief isn't going to be like someone else's. Just because people think I have cried and it's time to 'pull yourself up' and move on, doesn't mean that's where I was.  Where I am.  Even the experts can't predict how each individual will deal with grief.  How long it will last.  How difficult it will be.  Most people deal with one life altering event at a time and grieve for that ONE event.  I had 3 major life altering events From March 19 through May 15. That's a lot.  Then more life altering news through the remainder of the year trickled in.

Yes, diabetes is a 'manageable' disease.  Yes, the girls look healthy and fine now.  Yes, they are healthier than they were prior to getting them on insulin, but.... they now have a life threatening, incurable, terminal disease.  Each day we fight to keep them alive.  To beat down the beast that is diabetes from winning and stealing their very lives.

Yes, I have assurance I will one day see my mom again.  She is whole in Heaven.  That does give me peace.  It keeps me from being hopeless.  Yet, I miss her so very much NOW.

So, am I grieving still?  Yes, I am.  I'm not sure if I'll ever stop grieving for the girls until a cure is found.  Would someone with any other terminal disease stop grieving while dealing with their disease day in, day out?  Is the grief as raw?  No, not at all.  But... hard days bring that rawness up just a bit.

In realizing I needed to show myself grace in grieving, I realized I also need to strive toward giving grace to those around me who don't understand my grief.

Is that easy?  Not so much.  I struggle with it internally and externally often.

I'm hurt.  When I'm hurt I tend to lash out.

But... that's not helpful.  It's not productive.

I can't say "I'm there" yet. But... I am trying.

I'm trying to remember that those not living this disease have no idea the toil it brings.  They don't see the nightly blood sugar checks as we prick our little girls' fingers to bring forth a tiny drop of blood in the dark of night to be sure they are safe; the high and low alarms going off that bring such an adrenalin rush to a mom and dad's heart; the fear as you walk into their bedroom not sure if they are going to be responsive or not; the half asleep child sitting up and pursing their lips sucking at an invisible straw b/c they know you said, 'drink the juice', but their mouth hasn't actually made contact with said juice yet; they are tired, their blood sugar is low, they aren't 'quite themselves; the look on our little girls' faces as their blood sugar drops from a fun day of swimming; how their little bodies go limp even though their desire is to continue playing and frolicking in the cool water; the panic when a cold or virus hits our family and the girls' blood sugars rise and rise and ketones become present in their urine; the worry that ketoacidosis will ravage their bodies all because a simple cold was brought home from a class, church, or the playground.

I'm trying to show grace because if you don't live this life, you can't understand it.  If you don't live this life, you won't feel the heavy load of bricks resting upon your chest each night as you fall asleep, wondering what tonight will bring.  If you don't live this life, you can't understand how hearing of a new virus being spread around causes heart pounding fear in our minds.  If you don't live this life, you don't know what it's like to always carry 'emergency supplies' everywhere you go.  If you don't live this life, you haven't felt the agony of knowing you must painfully stick a needle into your child's body, just to save them.  If you don't live this life, you can't know that each day we are fighting to keep our girls alive.  A very REAL fight.  A very REAL struggle. But... if you don't live this life, you couldn't know that.

Because I know most don't understand, I'm trying to find ways to be graceful.  I didn't fully understand before our girls' were diagnosed.

I'm also giving myself grace when the tears come.  When the anxiety hits.  There's no time limit on grief.

All that transpired in 2015 hasn't just 'gone away' now that a new year is here.  It's ok if I cry.  It's ok if I hide.  It's ok if I fear.  It's ok if I miss my mom.

Grace.  Grace is helping me emerge from this grief.

God's grace has saved me.  God's grace can get me through this too.  He shows me grace, therefore it only makes sense I show myself that same sort of grace.  It only makes sense I strive to show it to others as well.

Grace.  Simply.... grace.

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