In the aftermath of losing my only child, the discussion of what my path will be moving forward is a hot topic. With a medically fragile child, my purpose was very defined. He required a level of care which did not make a career feasible for me, and truth be told, I was not a bit career-minded despite having earned an engineering degree. I was 100% motherhood-minded and that was exactly what our family needed from me. Now that Miles has been gone for 20 months, I get the sense that people are starting to get uncomfortable with me neither mothering nor working. They are wondering what path I will travel now that Miles is gone. Guess what? So am I! I truly have no idea what to do with my life from this point forward, and the slightest nudge or suggestion regarding the topic makes me very uncomfortable.
We all want to be on a clear path. When we’re off path, the weeds are high, our views are obscured and our destination is unclear. To give you an idea where I feel I am right now, I’d say I’m lost at sea. You guys. I’m not even anywhere near dry land. Forget the clear cut path, forget the bug-infested weeds surrounding it, forget the final destination and the landmarks along the way. I’m in the freaking ocean. Alone. Sometimes you come out for a swim and we speak. I act normally because I’m trying to find joy in my current circumstances. I’ll tell you a funny story because I love to make you laugh. I’m close to drowning, but I’m still trying to be thoughtful and kind to those around me. I don’t ask you for help because I know that I am solely responsible for working through my grief, my doubts, my anger, my loneliness. I am buoyed by God and my faith that He is actively working in my life and wants me to reach dry land. I still flail regularly and often feel that the shore is non-existent, or at best, farther away than I could ever swim in a lifetime.
I want to make it to shore. I really do. My fingers are pruning pretty badly out here. It’s cold and treading water is exhausting. Keep coming by to check on me, but please understand that there is no way for you to drag me out. It just doesn’t work that way.
I’m confident that I will roll in like a beached whale at some point, and hopefully soon! Until then, try not to force me onto a path. We can talk about that when I’m digging the sand and seahorses out of my pockets and warming up by the fire.
Thanks for loving me through this and understanding that the grief process is wildly unpredictable, messy, awkward and uncomfortable. And I plead with those out there that have lost a loved one and have forced yourselves onto a path to avoid the grief altogether. Please know that you cannot beat the system. You cannot skip the “lost at sea” portion of the program and go on your merry way, stuffing your feelings down, down, down. You may travel comfortably down your path for awhile, but it will inevitable deposit you directly into the depths of the ocean with no warning. Take care of yourself by acknowledging your loss. You owe it to yourself and to those around you.