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When Normal Feels Foreign

Grief is a lot like a New England winter. Some days the skies are clear and bright, while others are dark and gloomy. In New England, you never know what to put on because even when morning hits you with a cold, frigid, slap across the face, there is still a chance that the afternoon just might provide some sunshine so warm that it will either feel like a comforting hug or cause you to break out in a sweat so severe that you can’t get your coat off fast enough. I guess that’s why they say to dress in layers.

Grief is even more unpredictable. It’s layers are so vast and mysterious. It comes in waves, some of them severe and very inconsistent and some so still and calm… and, these are the ones I can manage… the ones I can coast on. Either way, there’s always a new storm brewing. While sometimes I feel the very SON shining down on me, other times there is an intense cold front that closes in; it is so dramatic and so overwhelming, that finding refuge seems impossible.

The holidays are hard. There are these noncompliant waves of emotion. Joy, then sorrow, pleasure then pain, happiness then gloom. I can’t really describe it as a moment to moment thing, because, sometimes, the moments multiply, coincide and intertwine so intricately. One moment I’m thanking God that I ‘get’ to clean up after my family, and the next I’m silently confronting my husband in my own head as to why the heck he has to shave SO MUCH and, more importantly, why does he has to leave his hair in and around the sink?! (Sorry this is the most recent thing I have to vent about).

Then, instantly, this happens… I begin to feel like a terrible person. I’ve lost a son. How can I ever resent anything about my responsibility to love and serve my family? I wrestle with this thought, but,  soon after, God’s grace enters in which allows me to get real with myself and say ‘Shannon, it’s ok. You’re human.’ But, believe it or not, it is THIS follow up conversation with myself that stings the most. It stings because I realize that life is so normal… when I never thought it would, life has continued to move on. I continue to live, I continue to be human, and I continue to fall short in so many areas.

I guess when you first lose someone, you sort of think that you’ll never take anyone or anything for granted ever again… but, you do. More often then I’d like to admit, I still do. I still snap at my husband, I still dream about getting a weekend away from my kids, and I still whine about the laundry while desperately wishing I had one more persons to do…

Christmas was overall really nice today, and, to be honest, that feels weird. It was different, but I loved it. I missed my son, but I didn’t cry. However, I did cry A LOT on Friday. But, today, I laughed. I laughed a lot. And, I took a nap and sang silly songs. Yet, I still thought about Christmas past… a lot. I smiled and I hurt. I felt warm and fuzzy, but I also felt void and reminiscent. The Normal still feels foreign, sometimes.

I’m not even sure this blog will make a whole lot of sense, but neither does grief. It’s a smorgasbord of emotions, and, sometimes, I feel seventeen things in the same second. Be patient with yourself, and be patient with others. Trust in the Lord and His plan even when you don’t understand. Be ready for a dramatic shift in emotions just like the temperatures in New England. Clothe yourself in layers of His peace, His love, His mercy and His grace and be willing to fall on Him in every type of weather, in the calm and in the raging seas. And, always remember, that the waves and the wind still know His name. Even when you’re too weak to call out for help, know that He is with you through it all.

‘Though, I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for Thou art with me.’

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