Remember that, when you were strapped into the back seat, wedged between sisters (well, that was my reality), and the car ride to wherever you were going felt like it was taking forever. Each minute added to the discomfort and the tension built from the inside out. You forgot where you were going as that was no longer important, all you could think about was getting out of the car (yes, I am impatient and petulant and was very much so as a child). You feel trapped and wish for the car to slow down, pull over, stop, and then the magic moment when the doors open.
Are we there yet? Can I let go of this tension? When will the doors open for me?
I am no longer in the back seat of the family car, but maybe you are…
A person’s grief journey may be one of the longest rides they ever take. For some, the ride never stops. And, for us all, it takes MUCH longer than we want it to.
I remember feeling that it was time to feel differently, time to not hurt so much, time for a new thought and thud to be repeating in my mind and heart.
I was mere months into my journey that started the day Sage, my son died, and I was the itching, wriggling kid in the back seat. I wriggled so much that I was now literally on the other side of the globe. Months after Sage’s death I flew away from home and found myself in North Sri Lanka in the heartland of post-civil war life. Before leaving Australia I had put my home on the market for sale and packed up my belongings and put the boxes out of sight. I so badly wanted the doors to open and to be let out, to be free to feel something different.
I’m pacing the dirt that surrounds the house I am staying at in Kilinochchi, the place I had arrived at to help, volunteering my time with a community arts organization. I pace in the dirt and the heat, with tears stinging my eyes, not falling, just teasing. I am talking to my mother on the phone in Australia and she is telling me the recent offer on my home has fallen through, with no sale, and no freedom. Kicking up the dirt I feel fresh anger rising. Not at my mother, the real estate agent, or the family who had chosen to not buy my house, I was angry at myself and I was pissed at grief.
Shouldn’t I feel better by now? Why am I not there yet?
When I expressed my anger, frustration, and heavy grief with my mother I heard nothing at first, then a deep breath before she shared her mother’s love.
“It’s still so early Deb. You have much further to go.”
A mother’s truth and not what I wanted to hear, but what I needed to hear.
I can still see myself so clearly pacing in the heat, in my own dust storm. I can still see it as I felt it so deeply. What happened next after my mother’s truth was a collapse from the inside out. I felt heavy, sad, angry, frustrated, overwhelmed, and then more sadness on top. I knew that I could and would do this, I would be able to find my way, I just needed to hear the truth. It was going to take me much longer than I wanted it to. Damn.
I wanted to run and be free. Some get stuck in stillness. Others numb it all to nothing.
And the thing we all have in common is we all want to know, Are we there yet?
There? It’s the place, the day, the future, where you feel okay again and the hurt is gone.
I got there, and yep, you guessed it, it took me MUCH longer than I thought it would. But perhaps what you did not guess is that along the way I found more than the easing of the ouch. I discovered new ways to love, magic in the most surprising places, and a connection to spirit and my spiritual practice that I didn’t even realize I was missing.
One of the things that amused me along the journey was my embodiment of cliches and old tales…I seemed to be stepping into them with ease, and I share one with you now that sums this all up…
It’s not the destination that counts, it’s the journey.
So, my friend, you take as long as you need. And, on the days that feel hard, look out to the horizon for that is where you are headed, you are moving towards THERE.