My “Grief Observed”

Yesterday was the first day in 10 that I haven’t cried. Today is the first day in just as many that I actually put mascara on. Why put something on that will just drain down your face?!

It’s interesting to me how our brain processes. Every day is different. C.S. Lewis says in his book A Grief Observed, “Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape.”

I see new landscapes each day, some more beautiful than the day before and some not so beautiful. Every night, my brain sorts and files the days information, trying to process this brick of grief. It puts all the day’s events and thoughts and emotions in a manila folder, slaps a label on it and files it away under the corresponding heading. I tend to wake up feeling better each morning, but as the morning turns to afternoon, the grief looms over me again.

I’ve heard it said death is like an amputation and I would agree. It seems to be after lunch I notice this gaping hole where a leg used to be.

Life just isn’t the same. Papa used to live next door to me and call me daily about silly things like how to work the microwave. My kids used to ask continuously to go to his house and play in the shop or fish at the lake. My dog would even run to his front porch if he happened to escape out the front door. I blocked off certain days from our schedule so we could spend time with him.

Now there’s just this void. I can’t believe he isn’t here for me to share this life with anymore.

My house, too, is filled with so many memories I can’t get away from. Sometimes I don’t want to get away from them, but sometimes I think it would help! I couldn’t even box Christmas up without the memory of the ornaments piercing me in the gut.

Every year since I was five, my grandparents gave me an ornament at Christmas symbolizing something from the year. And every year I have put them on my tree, remembering those times with great affection. But this year, as I took them off, they felt so heavy, weighed down with special memories. Memories that will no longer be added to here on earth.

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My brain seems to have already forgotten the ugly, hard days. Like the day he fell at my house. Like how he used to yell at me for suggesting a shower or how mad he got that I wouldn’t let him drive. I don’t want him to still be struggling here, I just miss him.

If I had my leg amputated due to gangrene, I wouldn’t wish to have my leg back in that state, but learning to walk as an amputee would require an adjustment. It would be different. Not the same. Ever.

At night, I’m plagued with wild and crazy dreams. I think my brain is wrestling with all these facts and trying to establish a new order to living.

My arms and legs feel like someone filled them with lead weights. My brain moves in slow motion and whenever I have to think about Papa’s memorial service I feel like I’m going to throw up. If I have to juggle two events at the same time, like leaving the house and reminding the kids to get their jackets and shoes on, it’s like I shut down and can’t handle it.

I’m usually a fast mover, being able to handle several things going on at once and keep pretty much a level head. But recently, I’m running late, forgetful and crying at the drop of a hat.

Yesterday Mackenzie asked me why all this was happening as a result of Papa’s passing. It just didn’t make sense to her why his death could lead to my forgetfulness and having to slow down. I tried to explain, but how do you? It’s called Grief. It comes in many forms and looks different for everyone. I told her I just need lots of grace right now. I feel like my leg has been amputated and I have to figure out how to walk again.

Sometimes I forget about the grief and try to move at normal speed only to fall flat on my face. It’s in my nature to push myself, so I think if I just get going my body will follow. Feelings follow actions, right? Well, sometimes.

But sometimes, I just can’t. I need to sleep. Need to read. Need to write. Need to watch a movie, and another movie. And sometimes I don’t know what I need. Do I need to rest or talk to someone? Do I need to go for a walk or take a nap?

One thing I know is God has beautiful, perfect timing. We bought Mackenzie a puppy for Christmas, but didn’t pick her up until January 3rd. This puppy is precious and cuddly and the perfect medicine to my grief!

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There’s so much more to share…but that will have to be for another day.


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7 thoughts on “My “Grief Observed”

  1. Gayla Grace says:

    Yes, grief is hard. I’m so sorry, Julie. I’m grieving also as I watch my mom’s continued descent with dementia. Some days I just can’t seem to function. I understand what you’re describing. Hang in there, friend. Miss you at writers group! Gayla

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    • juliesteck says:

      I miss writers group too Gayla! Ugh…I’m so sorry to hear about your mom. Dementia us so hard to watch. Will be praying for you and her. God taught me so many things that i am thankful for as I watched my Papa digress.

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  2. Brenda Ripley-Aikman says:

    Julie, you are a beautiful writer, if I can use that word. You express so accurately and beautifully what I have felt in my life also. Of course, I could not have shared with anyone what you say. I just couldn’t get it out.

    These thoughts of yours have brought some sweet healing in me since Charles preceded me to go home with Jesus. Next December will be 20 years and deep, deep inside me I still miss him so!

    Thank you for sharing, my sweet friend. The memorial was such a testimony of great love between you and I praise God I was able to share in that with you all.
    Love your whole family,
    Brenda

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    • juliesteck says:

      Oh Brenda your comment means so much! I am sure you miss Charles! I have such fond memories of him as well and I’m so thankful my words could bring comfort to you! It was wonderful to see you at Papa’s service. Love you!

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  3. elen121 says:

    Hi there Julie. I just stumbled across your blog and so glad I did! You have just perfectly summed up what I am feeling every day, while morning the recent loss of both my parents. I bought ‘A grief observed’ two years ago when my dad passed away and you have inspired me to revisit it now that my mother is also gone. May I also recommend Virginia Ironside’s book ‘You’ll get over it’ which deals with the rage of bereavement. Thank you for your wonderful blog. Sending love your way x

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    • juliesteck says:

      Hi Elen! I’m so glad you found my blog and that my journey through grief could encourage you. I’m so sorry you have lost both parents…I pray for your healing as you continue to grieve them. May God open new chapters for you. 🙂

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