Like waves the grief comes, they wash over me…and, sometimes, it seems they are just pounding me down. Down to lows that I have never experienced thus far in my life. It’s a little scary, and very uncomfortable.
While in the US Navy, onboard the nuclear submarine USS Portsmouth, we visited many places around the world. Before we pulled into a port unfamiliar to us, our leadership would share points of interest and safety precautions for our liberty excursions. Before pulling into Oahu, Hawaii, warnings about the waves were shared.
Due to the absence of the continental shelf, which surrounds the United States, Hawaii has waves that can be very dangerous. There are beaches where the waves break on the beach. These waves will, essentially, drive a person down onto the hard packed sand and can cause great bodily damage. Broken shoulders, necks, and sprains are common.
These waves are a great illustration for what the grief feels like at times. It seems to rise, out of nowhere, then slams me down…feeling like I am almost about to drown. The water rushing across my ears is deafening, I can’t fight the weight of the wave, and it feels like I am in a different place…a disorientation to reality.
When I get that low, I lose sight of positives. I know things will get better. I know God is good to me. I know people care. But, all this knowledge seems to vaporize, and I begin to think the worst. I make poor suggestions about how the world is and then agree with myself. Not a good place.
In the moment, it’s so hard to “swim” up to light, and air, and reality. I think it is just a matter of waiting until the wave passes, because, it will eventually move along.
Early on, I was sitting on the beach, and every wave that came in was hitting me…one after another. Sometimes, so close together that it left little room for air in between. Now, I have spent some time up further on the dry sand. But, for whatever reason, I venture down into the water and get pounded again.
This grief is the most difficult thing I have ever endured. My heart is broken. There is no easy way to live through this. Every day is a fight. I’m fighting my desire to quit, my complacency, tendencies to turn inward, and I’m struggling to hold onto hope for the future. But…I continue on. I keep moving. One step at a time. I will not quit. God has purpose for me, and I recognize that – I still have a breath in me.
For the moment, I am getting up, after a particularly strong “Valentines Day” wave, and walking back toward the dry sand for a bit. That one hurt. It has passed, I’m stronger, and another “first” is over…