I vowed to my friend that I would not talk about grief on the blog this year. I felt that my readers were probably sick of reading about my grief journey. Yet, I do not have the ability to read minds, so I do not really know what my readers are thinking. Honestly, I am the one who is sick of writing and talking about grief. I desire to pretend that grief moments do not exist. Those moments where I hear a certain song and think of my sister, Wanda. Those moments when the tears come. Those moments that my mom succumbs to the tears.
Back in December 2015, I claimed 2016 as my year of joy. Basically, I was not going to allow grief to arrest me. To break me in half. But I am not superhuman, and it was a mistake to believe that I would never be affected by grief. My mother and I have been affected. I know that my dad grieves, but it is not as visible to me as my mother’s grief. I am going to share how it feels to watch my mother grieve.
One of the churches in my city has experienced a series of deaths, which has produced empathy and sorrow within my mother and me. When a church member dies, it as though a family member has died. I believe that so much time can be spent in church, that you end having both warm conversations and arguments with other members. You celebrate milestones such as the upcoming birth of a baby or a person’s 80th birthday. Thus, it is very challenging when a church member dies, because you have witnessed so many events with this person.
My mother was particularly concerned with the death of the fourth person that died in this local church. She discussed the death with other folks and was interested in attending the wake or funeral. On one Sunday, I was driving my parents to church. We were listening to a poignant song, and I heard soft noises from my mother. She was crying, and I felt helpless. My mom missed my sister and her daughter. As I drove, I looked back at her face. Her eyes were crinkled, and her mouth was turned upside down. I wanted to jump out of my seat to give her a hug. I thought to myself, “It’s okay to cry, Mom.”
In American society, there is a timeline for acceptable grieving. After the first year, there are not as many phone calls or texts asking how you are doing. Life happens, and people have their own struggles. I understand that people cannot continue to check in with you. But there does not seem to be enough space for folks to process. To be free to cry in year two, year three or even year four.
So, my hope was that my mother did not stifle her tears. I desired for her to be the brave one. To express a courage that I struggled to have.
In church, my mother asked for prayer for the bereaved family and then she asked for prayer for herself. She explained to the congregation that she had been thinking about her own deceased daughter a lot. She cried again, and I wanted to race to her pew. She needed to be comforted, and I had to be the comforter. But my brother ended up moving to her pew and embraced her.
When a parent grieves, you subconsciously take on your parent’s role. You become what your parent was to you when you were little. When you scraped your knee, your mom gently wiped the bruised area with water, soap, and rubbing alcohol. Maybe, she even kissed the area in order to “make it all better.” I have realized that I cannot “make it all better.” Indeed, I can kiss my mom. I can allow her to cry and hug her. But I cannot save or heal her.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
Even though, I want to be my mother’s protector, I have to remember that she has Jesus. When her heart splatters on the ground, Jesus is not afraid to see the blood and to wipe it up.
It was unreasonable of me to promise myself to not write about grief this year. There are other daughters and sons out there who are trying to be the solution to their parents’ mangled hearts. They are pushing themselves to be the ointment that only Jesus can be. I have to write about grief even when I am done with talking about it, because I am still extracting lessons from the pain. I have to pass on what I have learned about grief to others.