The trees are beginning to change colors, the reds, golds, and yellows, fall has arrived. Today as I drove along the interstate, I marveled at the array of colors, some deeper, others much more subtle. Along with these were the dull browns, grays and occasional dead tree, as nature prepares for the long sleep of winter.
I love this time of year, the warm days, crisp, cool evenings and the wonderful smells and tastes of the season. If however you suffer from allergies, as I do, you also dread it. I am fighting a terrible cold along with my allergy symptoms, and the winter and flu season has not yet begun.
Like the trees, my body is reacting to the changing season, but instead of donning the bright hues, I feel more like the dull browns and grays. This past month of September was difficult for me, it seems as if I had gotten in to a funk and couldn't get out of it. I felt tired, run down and got things done but with little enthusiasm. I was feeling depressed, I realized, four years have gone by since Rachel's death and it is as if all of a sudden reality is hitting me again. I have been told that the fourth year can be a difficult one, and I wanted to shrug it off, thinking how can that be true, shouldn't it be getting easier. It's been four years.
But in truth, I have had a hard time, I don't necessarily feel like crying all the time, but there is a heaviness I just can't seem to shake. So yes we do backslide, we do sometimes feel as if nothing is real, we find ourselves in a state of flux, not sure what to do next. I know my current cold is due to the fact that I haven't been getting enough rest, and my body is telling me to slow down.
I have read that sometimes we need to move back a few steps in order to get farther ahead. I know that this is just a hiccup in my life, and that it is very normal. Events, seasons, and people can trigger memories and emotions. It has been an eventful year for our family, we have had a new grandson, I have taken on new responsibilities at work, my son is trying to get his license, my niece got married and I am back in school. Looking at all that has happened and is happening, I realized how much of it can not be shared with Rachel.
My grandson will know of his auntie because we will share her story, but there will not be the physical knowing. At work, one of my responsibilities will be helping others in our area with grief, using my own experience to help others through theirs, something I could not have done well prior to Rachel's death. I want my son to get his license, but a part of me is afraid, their is a fear that comes with loss, but I also know I have to trust. My niece's wedding served as a reminder that I would not see Rachel walk down the aisle. Going back to school at any age is daunting to say the least. All these things may seem trivial, but when lumped together, can seem so burdensome.
When we are grieving, these normal changes in our lives, seem to take on a life of their own, we tend to look at these events and occurrences with different lenses. Life's joys such as births and weddings, seem to have a dark cloud lurking near by. We may be able to hide these feelings and emotions from the rest of the world, but in the quite hours, when no one is looking, we allow ourselves to feel. The pain and hurt that no one else sees, comes bubbling to the surface. Our fears also pop up once in a while and we can only hope that we are keeping them in check, that we are not projecting them onto our family and friends.
It is all this and more that seems to have caught up to me all of a sudden, as the month of September came into view, and I am once again reminded of how little time I truly had with Rachel. I ran into a friend the other day who was having a difficult week, it had been the anniversary of her brother's death and even though it has been about 6 years now, her and her family still feel the pain, still have a hard time.
Someone I worked with a few years ago, told me when Rachel died, that his mother-in-law had lost two sons, and that even now 25 plus years later, she still has a difficult time when it comes to the anniversary of their deaths. I had noticed it before in people around me, but only living through it myself, have I come to fully understand why certain dates and events triggers a heavy sadness, that time cannot seem to erase.
Know that all this is normal, that events and dates may trigger memories, some welcome and others depressing. After all we are human, we feel, we care, and most importantly, we love, so any loss in our lives will have an impact on us. So whether it has been a year or twenty, it is okay to feel sadness, to feel a sense of loss and emptiness, to feel a longing and to find yourself in a funk. We have had to say good bye to someone and the void they leave behind in our lives is often so difficult to fill.
So remember: 'We are often troubled, but not crushed; sometimes in doubt, but never in despair; there are many enemies, but we are never without a friend; and though badly hurt at times, we are not destroyed.' (2 Corinthians 4:8-9)
And like the changing seasons, we bend and adapt, and we prepare ourselves for whatever may lie ahead. Living through the dark winters, to be renewed again when spring arrives.
Blessings! and until we meet again.