Reality feels like sunburn
Today I step out from the ocean of shock & denial that almost lulls you into a false sense of being rocked to calm you & I step out into the rocky, sun scorched ledges of stage 2. For your reference, I include the stages below again & the link (click on Stage 1 below) to read the first part of this 7 step process if you missed it. I need to just mention again that for each stage I give a brief general description & then I proceed to dissect the stage from my own perspective.
Stage 1-Shock & denial
Stage 2-Pain & guilt
Stage 3-Anger & bargaining
Stage 4-Depression (Reflection/ Loneliness)
Stage 5- Surrender & Release
Stage 7-Choosing Life (acceptance & hope)
Stage 2: Pain & guilt
This is the second level of dealing with the loss. As the shock begins to wear thin, it is replaced in part by the searing pains related to losing someone you love or care deeply about. The pain, albeit physically & emotionally excruciating, is a necessary part of the process. To sit alongside the pain, experiencing it in all its raw mutilation allows you to move with it, through it. Avoiding it, running from it, numbing it with substances or other activities, only masks it. Along with pain, its friend regret may also sit alongside you. The two want nothing more than to consume you, so it is important to remain aware & present throughout, openly expressing yourself & sharing your thoughts or feelings with those who are there to support you.
Revelation 21:4 “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain. For the old order of things has passed away…” God knew that death would devour & destroy us & therefor He made an alternate plan. For through Jesus, eternal life became an option… so that we might be reunited with Him & with one another…
Till we meet again
I think this phase began after the laying to rest of my sisters body. I had been part of arranging the funeral service, supporting my parents as we ticked the boxes involved with laying a loved ones body back into the dust from whence it came. I felt an urgency to deliver the eulogy at my sisters funeral service. I wanted it to be a place where people were not held in shock by the nature of her death, but see this tragic event as only but a fraction of a very purposeful, rich & fulfilled life. I also wanted people to walk away remembering her bravery, her fearlessness, the unconditional love with which she carried herself & supported other people. Getting to this point in the days leading up to the funeral service was not easy… as a human one goes through the motions & they are not easy to process.
13 days after her death, we laid the outer casing of my sisters soul to rest. Her body but a shadow of her former, vibrant, light & unbelievably beautiful self. The soul long since gone back to be with God & flying freely in the spaces that surrounded us. The deepest sense that she was finally completely at peace. Resting. Going through the motions of saying our final goodbyes & walking head on into the next phase of the grieving process.
Death shows its sting
The pain began to rear its head a few days after we had walked away from the grave. Long, torrid sobs pulling at every fibre of my body, threatening to catapult me into murky spaces that I’ve never experienced before. Looking at my sisters beautiful, troubled face in countless life filled pictures across many different peoples social media accounts. Acknowledging her luminescent spirit, burdened by the heaviness of the world & its darkness. Being contacted by countless people, relaying stories of her reaching out to help them, shining light for them, giving hope to them, encouragement, motivation, affirmation, validation. ALL the things she needed.
A dance with the darkness
Dealing with my own anxiety about the last few years. Looking back & resenting myself for living my life just as she had been living hers. Reaching for my dreams, just as she had been reaching for hers. Holding spaces for difficult situations that were not always my own, just as she had been doing. Anger with myself bubbling at the core of my being. Anger with anyone who she had seemed to have placed her trust in that did not share her struggle with me, so that I had more awareness. Anger at myself for not being more connected. Anger with her for not being more open, more legible, more transparent. Guilt & resentment & eventually indifference at the situation. At God. In moments blaming her. Then knowing that I cannot blame her. Loving her & then blaming God. Acknowledging that God was always present then blaming people. Turning the awareness back to myself, taking responsibility & being accountable for what I believed I did, didn’t do, could have done. A violent dance with myself & also with the darkness as I wrestle to make sense of all of it & still remain grounded in my hope, my faith, my Creator.
Looking at moments with increased sensitivity & awareness. Seeing the connections. Examining fragments of what I now have the opportunity to go back to. Examining & not always understanding. Understanding through my gift & then returning to the place where resentment overtakes me. Sadness again. More pain. More tears. More guilt. More anxiety. More love. More deep longing. More regret & back again.
Nothing but nothing can prepare one for losing a loved one. I have always believed that I do not have issues with death because I believe in Heaven & I believe in grace. I have always cried at losing family or friends but consoled myself in the knowing that we leave this realm & join Him who created us in eternity. I have healed quickly before, getting back to my life easily. Tossing myself back into feverishly living & breathing & dreaming & becoming…. but I have never experienced this level of pain at losing someone.
Maybe because I had expectations. Because my sister was only 26. Because I had at the end of 2018 created an image in my mind of where we were headed. Her and I. In my newfound confidence in Christ. In my admiration for her fearlessness. In the knowing that I missed her presence around me. That she missed me. That the last 5 years she had been going further & further into a world that may have been consuming her. That there had been enough of living separately & that there were lives to be changed. I never shared this with many but I had visions of where we would go. As a team. Changing lives. Her using her talent for the Kingdom. Her gifts. Alongside me. Restoration. In my minds eye… a dream that was not to be. Not in the sense in which I expected.
And so I sit alongside pain & guilt, regret joining us at the bonfire of my mourning. Anger popping in occasionally to add fuel to the fire that felt like it might consume my very being… and I fight. Fight to douse the flames & save myself. Save the memories of my sister from being incinerated by the darkness…. and I call out, so that God might come & find me at the pit & carry me out. Holding the light so that I might make my way out safely without further injury & permanent scarring…. and I grieve. Death stings & I grieve.
Sending love always,