There’s no right way to grieve people say. To people who are grieving I say There’s no one right way to grieve.
I am unsure if people mean it when they say it or if they are just offering encouragement. What I am sure of is that after seeing countless family and friends grieve people and situations and lives they’d hoped to have, I mean it when I say it to them. What I am equally sure of is that I do not think that it applies to me, because often it feels like I’m grieving all wrong.
Losing my Dad and my bonus Dad five weeks apart has me asking myself each night if I did the right things that day, if how I am feeling is too much or too little, if they would agree with what I said or did, if I’m setting the right example for my girls, if God is rolling His eyes at me or pleased. And every day I fall asleep still having no idea, really.
My father-in-law lived with us for almost 15 years. Ella does not remember a time when her Papa Ted wasn’t downstairs. I’m thankful for his consistent and loving presence in their lives, and his support on all their hard days. I’m thankful that he got his wish to spend all his days at home, not in a hospital or in a “place old people go to die.” And I’m thankful that he embraced the unconventional, and that together we showed the girls what family is truly about.
Grief is so many things throughout each day. It’s sadness when you want to tell that person something. It’s frustration that you suddenly have to figure out a bunch of stuff. It’s happiness that your loved ones are no longer held back by old bodies. It’s anxious idleness during the times of day you previously had tasks with or for them.
Navigating grief is like driving through the streets in Grand Theft Auto or The Transporter. Sometimes you’re looking for something, sometimes you’re racing, sometimes you make a quick turn to avoid something, sometimes you accomplish something and feel great and celebrate, sometimes something unexpected hits you hard, sometimes great music comes on and makes you smile, sometimes you screech to a halt and don’t know what to do next.
My current stage of grief is the one with no sappy or slow music of any kind. The Beastie Boys, Eminem and DMX are all safe. Even on the way to church: The Humpty Dance. It’s also the one where I limit the number of people I talk to in a day, where I fall asleep at 8 pm and wake up at 1 with a dozen thoughts all vying for attention, and where I am so secretly enraged at Audrey’s teacher for giving homework that I consider all the steps it would take to find her address and print 100 copies of the work we did and attach them to real estate signs that could then be placed all over her yard. How’s that for showing my work?!
It’s also the stage where I really want hugs but wonder in the middle of them if I am really doing it right, or at least OK.
The house is different. The world is different. Maybe I’m different – I’m not sure yet. But a new season is ahead, one where God is going to do a new thing. Whatever that new thing is, today it seems far away. Today’s job is to drive carefully, no tickets and no tricks on just two tires.