I’m at an awkward place in my life.
There are two dates coming up shortly, that represents painful memories for me. The first date is this coming Sunday. My church is having its annual Thanksgiving dinner after the evening service. Two years ago, Terrie wasn’t feeling well and didn’t make it for the service or to the dinner. I went alone and felt alone. Seeing family and friends sitting together, laughing, and having a good time was difficult for me. I felt disconnected.
The second date is November 23rd. This year, Thanksgiving Day is on that date. Two years ago, on that day, Terrie died. Two years ago, the church dinner was on November 22nd. Terrie died in the wee hours of the 23rd. So, in my mind, these dates are tied together and they have the potential for emotional pain.
But I have learned through Grief Share, when dates or events like this are coming up, I should lean into the dates emotionally as one would lean into an ocean wave to keep from being knocked off my feet. They say to prepare yourself by planning for the day and for giving yourself some room. For me, it seems I mentally start about a month before. I think about and I am effected emotionally for a month before a date such as this. I need to shorten that time frame for my own good.
In the last two years, I have experienced many emotions. My faith has been tested and I feel I have grown in the Lord. I have been forced to form a “new identity”. An identity of who I am without the one I was identified with for two-thirds of my life. I have been forced to examine who I am as a man.
I’ve identified some areas that I don’t like, but there have been some areas that I think have been improved. I don’t like living alone or eating alone, or being alone, but the reality is that’s the way it is and I have to adapt and appreciate the times I have the opportunity to be with others. I’ve learned that socially, I’m not the kind of guy people want to hang out with. People will say “hi, how are you?” but beyond that – nothing. I am thankful that people liked Terrie and I was able to be included with her activities and interaction with others.
I have been able to adapt and I am still adapting to life alone, especially with my understanding of my relationship with the Lord. He is showing me how to relate to the needs of others, how to identify needs and how I can be an encouragement to others.
Last night was the last session of our fourth Grief Share cycle. It is entitled, “What Do I Live for Now?” I needed to hear that again. I needed to refocus. It had three points: moving forward is necessary; grief is a process; and peace and pain will always coexist.
How do I apply those points to my life?
Apparently, God has some more “life” for me to live. The Lord has allowed me to have a lady friend, in this last year. We have meals together and take short trips together, and we have a fun time together. This is part of the moving forward. I will always remember Terrie and our life together, that cannot be erased from my heart. Some are able to move forward without meeting someone else. Women tend to network more easily than men. When I lost Terrie, I lost almost everything in regards to being involved with people. She was my friend. The one I spent most of my time with. The one I wanted to spend most of my time with. Her death left a huge hole in my life.
Grief is a process. You hurt, you struggle, you make adjustment, and through the Lord’s Word and by His comfort you don’t hurt like you did before. I prefer to say it is a “refining” process, because along the way, the Lord is making you better, more useful, more compassionate, more being conformed to the image of His son. He will give us comfort so that we can comfort others who need comfort (2 Cor. 1:4). He changes us from one in need of comfort to being someone that has comfort to give. That’s a good thing.
And lastly, peace and pain will always coexist. This is where my awkward part comes internally for me. There are some good things in my life now. Namely my friend. My friend is not a replacement for Terrie. She is created by God, just as uniquely as He created Terrie. Each are special with their own talents and abilities. Each are individuals. The memories are changing from raw pain to more historic events, but with fondness. I have a continuing need to care for the needs of someone else, to look outward from myself. My friend makes me smile and creates peace within me and I am thankful for that. Is that wrong? I don’t see it that way, I see it as a blessing. I am thankful for God’s kindness to me by letting me be, in a small way, involved in her life.
This is today’s wave. Another wave will come. They always do. I just need to be ready for it.