We can feel like time is standing still, as if everything is moving in slow motion. The clock seems to tick slower and the hours drag on as if they are on vacation. We look at the clock again and again. What could be hours is really only minutes. This is where we can find ourselves when we are dealing with our grief. It can feel lonely and especially painful, all which seems to have no end.
Yet, we look at the past and it has flown by. The celebrations, the momentous events, the milestones all feel as though they came and went so fast. When was she that young – we ask looking at pictures. Do you remember when he did that, it seems so long ago – we giggle as we think back on a memory. Our minds are filled with treasured moments that can seem so far away, as specks in our rear view mirror.
Time ticks on – one moment at a time. Moments, days, weeks all pass – we move the calendar forward. We set timelines for ourselves. Now that I am in a new year, surely I will feel better – we tell ourselves. By February, I shouldn’t still be crying when I hear his name – we so desperately hope. Tomorrow I am going to get out of bed and find joy again – our heart cries out in an attempt to calm our anxieties and fears.
We put timelines on our grief and can’t wait to move on. But grief doesn’t work like this. We don’t wake up one day and it is all gone. It isn’t a disease we are cured from. Grief is a process, a journey which has to be traveled. Sometimes the journey is painful. Sometimes we find the belly laughs of memories from times past. Sometimes we can barely step forward. And sometimes, we find ourselves running into the future. But we must pass through, we must journey. If not now, we will later. If we put off the journey, it will come back in compounded force later. We will face our grief – and it will look different for each of us.
Just as we can’t put timelines on our grief, neither can those around us. Just because someone else in a similar situation was at a different point than you doesn’t make you bad or wrong or right. It makes you unique. It means your journey is just that – YOURS. No two grief journeys have the same timing. No two relationships are ever the same. Just because two men both lose their wives does not mean they will grieve their losses the same. It will look very different. So don’t compare your journey or your perceived progress with anyone else. Don’t beat yourself up because you are still struggling or because you feel better than someone else. It isn’t a race. It isn’t even something you can compare. It is an individual trek you take. There are friends and family who can help all along the way. But they also can’t set timelines or tell you when you aren’t getting better fast enough. This isn’t their journey either.
We are in unusual times. Grief has always had its own agenda. It has always been on its own course and in its own time. But with our pandemic, there are even more unknowns. With social distancing and the lack of support due to safety issues, your timeline may become even longer. It may take even more time to find your way in your grief journey. You may find yourself even more lost along the way than you could have even imagined. Know you are not alone. There are many feeling their way through the maze of grief with the hovering cloud of a disease blocking much of the light. Just keep moving forward, one tiny step at a time.
Your grief journey is just that – your journey. Take your time. You will find your way. Know that friends and family will support you on the journey. Know we are praying for you as you travel. Most importantly, know God is always by your side, no matter how dark and lonely the path may appear. You are never alone.