Grief has been harder to carry lately, like an invisible boulder on my back. The coming holidays combined with the upcoming 3 year anniversary of my husband's death has brought trigger after trigger. I'd forgotten how physical deep grief is: how it can weigh you down until you must actually lie flat on the floor to have any relief; how hard it is to eat when you have the grief-sick feeling all day long.
Unlike in year 1, I have no option but to carry grief wherever I go. Gone are the days when I could hide at home - far from watching eyes and uncomfortable questions. There is much to do, so grief comes with me... to work, to church, to meetings, to the store. Grief is there when people joke about graveyards and grief is there when I'm asked about my holiday traditions. Grief is there when people ask for prayer and it just happens to be the same request I made for my husband that received a no. Grief is just there.
While everything in me wants to crawl under my covers and hide until January, I am trusting that God, who got me through the first and second Decembers after Greg died. will carry me through this one too. So I'm going back to the basics of surviving when grief threatens to overwhelm and destroy:
I'm taking things one at a time. Multiple times today, I felt like I couldn't do the next thing. By 9am I wanted to give up on the day. Instead, I just did the next thing: I dropped off my recycling and then I let myself celebrate a victory. I didn't have to do it, but it was a little choice to continue fighting for life in the hardest of moments.
I'm letting myself rest. I laid down on the floor today, multiple times. Just for a couple minutes. Just enough to get out from under the heavy weight of grief for a few moments. Over the weekend, I took a few naps. I'm letting my body take a break when it is too exhausted from carrying the grief.
I'm saying no. I didn't go to a Christmas party. I canceled some plans. I didn't cancel others but I considered it before finally deciding I could handle it. I'm listening to myself and what I can emotionally handle and if possible (and it isn't always) skipping the things I can't.
I'm being kinder to myself, letting myself off the hook for not being able to do it all. I'm making frozen chicken nuggets for dinner 3 nights in a row and calling it a victory. I'm taking little walks outside to have fresh air. I'm doing gentle exercise to get some endorphins and positive chemicals going in my brain. I'm reaching out to friends who understand grief and asking them to pray. I'm pacing myself as I do the holiday tasks of wrapping gifts and signing cards.
This heavy, invisible boulder isn't going away, but 3 years of grieving has taught me how to carry it. And like every other season of grief, I will survive this one. Just as God carried me through dark days in the past, I trust that he will carry me through these days too.