Good Grief


Yesterday afternoon my husband Craig and I enjoyed our pool as we discussed the logistics of our daughter Rayanna's upcoming birthday, tomorrow. She will be turning 21. Our son, Jonas, will be turning 18 on the 14th of July. Craig and I will b


e turning 50 later this year. Plus, Rayanna will be graduating from college with her B.S. in December and Jonas will be graduating from high school next spring. We are definitely in a milestone year! A good year.


A year for lots of celebration.


It's a milestone year for yet another reason, a milestone we actually crossed many months ago, last year. Jonas and I began doing the math before the date arrived when he would pass up his big brother in age. His upcoming birthday just makes it obvious to everyone else, but Jonas became older than Perry last October. My baby became older than my firstborn last October. Neither of us was sure how we felt. We both decided "surreal" was the closest word we had to naming the feeling.


As you may have also experienced firsthand, grief can make celebrations more intense. More of all the emotions. The special occasions seem all the sweeter and more precious to me. I soak them up and enjoy every second. They also cause me to long for my son's physical presence. And as much as I would love for my hands to touch Perry's still-baby-soft face, more than anything I wish that his brother and sister could have him back in flesh and blood on their special


days. For Jonas to hear Perry's voice, for Perry to buy his sister a celebratory drink... what I wouldn't give.


While in the pool, Craig made a comment I had a visceral reaction to. My reaction took me by surprise, as if it was an overreaction. I felt my chest constrict and I found myself needing to use restraint with my words. I could tell Craig picked up on something being off, so I shared my feelings with him. Tears leaked out of my eyes and began flowing. I talked and cried and as I did, new thoughts streamed into my consciousness. These thoughts took me by surprise, but they were not unfamiliar.


I began talking about all the people who were once in our


kids' lives and no longer are. I talked about the people who I thought would be more involved in our kids' lives and are not. I reflected upon the six years that have passed since Perry died. I thought about the casket of our son's body and the hole beneath it, and the people who surrounded us during that time. I talked about how, on that day, I would have sworn that we would continue to be showered with love and support. And certain people, I'm sure, would travel to the ends of the earth to make their ongoing love and support known to us. To our children.


Certain people would make an ongoing effort to nurture relationships with our kids. And many people might reach out to form a new, or deeper, relationship with them. I would have sworn. But life and time has proved otherwise. Gosh, if the mom/parent grief doesn't always hit me the hardest. My heart breaking for my kids is my most ferocious grief.


While still in the pool it hit me that my initial feelings weren't about my husband. Those were the surface feelings, about something trivial. He was just my safe space. My deeper, more intense feelings originated from the abandonment I felt. I allowed m


yself to feel it all rush back again as I cried the emotions up and out. Craig and I shared tears and embraced in our mutual feelings. Then I cried more as I expressed how I wished the one person I wanted to be here for our kids more than anyone else, who would absolutely be here in the flesh for his brother and sister if he could, simply cannot.


I have never felt the abandonment flood back when I haven't also been longing for my son's physical presence. It all comes flooding back together. The anger. The sorrow. The longing. Yet, the intensity of these emotions has lessened over time for me. And the floods come less frequently. I bounce back faster. I return to love and forgiveness more quickly. I am grateful.


Maybe there are people in your life who could be there for you but aren't. I have learned that it isn't about us. It's about them. I could write an entire book on what it's really about, and it can be about so many different things. People can only show up for us as much as they can show up for themselves. If they haven't met the pain in themselves, they can't meet the pain in you. Spirit has revealed to me the emotional and spiritual incapacities of people in my own life. This has helped me shift from anger to compassion and transmute the lower energy of resentment into love. Right now, though, I simply want to honor your feelings. Our feelings. Allow yourself to explore and feel it all, so that you can return to love, which is who and what we really are.



Identifying our emotions is not an easy thing to do. It requires a safe space and that we give ourselves time and space for both contemplation and release. It's so challenging, but worth it to allow the emotions to come up and identify them, rather than to misplace them or avoid them altogether. We also need an awareness of our true self, our higher self, our connection to the divine, love itself; otherwise, even if we release the emotions, we may find ourselves reinstating them frequently, living out a pattern of self-pity, fear of abandonment, codependency. When we live in alignment with our higher self, we live in alignment with gratitude...


After I was cried out last night, as I prepared dinner I felt something even more familiar: a lightness in my being. More unexpected thoughts came to the surface. This time my thoughts carried the emotions of love and pride and gratitude for all the love we have


had, do have, and will have, in our lives. Gratitude for family and friends from our past, present, and future. Gratitude for family and friends and teachers and all who are bright lights to my kids, in all their different roles and capacities. Gratitude for past relationships that stand the test of time. Gratitude for relationships that will be renewed in the future. Gratitude for new relationships that step in when old relationships cease. Gratitude for all the experiences my kids have had, and gratitude for all the love that has ever been poured into them. Gratitude for Spirit, for filling us all up with love when we are not otherwise feeling the love. Even when we are unaware. Especially when we are unaware.


I shifted back into the peace with my past that I had previously made and will probably continue to make. I shifted out of fear of future disappointment and abandonment. I shifted into forgiveness and love and openness to people showing up for us in whatever capacity they can, when they can. It's a shift I will choose to allow whenever I need to recalibrate.


I felt even more gratitude than usual for the two beautiful, extraordinary human beings walking this earth who call me MOM. I couldn't be prouder of them. They both have their own unique gifts, which their dad and I have been blessed to be the first recipien


ts of. My kids are the best gifts I will ever receive. Our relationships will continue to change and evolve, but the love will remain as will this: I will always be MOM, just as I will always be MOM to all three of my children.


Most surprising of all the feelings last night was what I felt last and went to bed with: Gratitude for Craig. And me. Thoughts of the past six years and all the ways we have shown up for these two loving, precious souls, in big and small ways, flooded my mind. I became especially grateful for the arduous days of grief. How hard it was just to carpool or buy groceries. I thank God for those days being long behind us, but I realized this new pride for myself last night. Parenting during that time was harder than birthing, harder than having three kids in five years, harder than any other time. I have doubted myself so many times. Only a bereaved parent or spouse will realize the incredulous strength, and love, required.


I easily felt gratitude for how present we have been with our kids, and how far we have come, over these past six years. But prominent was this: pride for how we made it through the darkest of days with grace and love. The smallest acts of love and service were the greatest feats. I have no doubt that Spirit and our son, brother, helped carry us through. Higher love and my immense love for all my children fueled me. They were my reason for being, and I am so, so grateful that they were.



Today, I can too easily go full-on, mom autopilot without stopping to marvel at how far we have come. Or I can view the past through my perceived inadequacies. Last night I expressed to Craig, "As hard as it has been, I think we've done a pretty good job at this parenting thing." He agreed. Our kids have never lacked our presence, nor our love.


Yesterday I washed away what was standing between me and who I really am, who we all really are: LOVE. Call it a mini-life review or seeing through the eyes of Spirit. Probably both, one and the same. This morning I have a new revelation: Fear escaped me last


night. Fears I didn't realize I was carrying flowed out through my tears: Fear that my kids did not have enough. Fear that I was not enough. Fear of future abandonment. Fear of disconnect with our son and their brother. As the fear escaped, I returned to forgiveness and acceptance of what is. I returned to connection with my spirit, with LOVE.


This is the kind of good that can come out of befriending our feelings and allowing ourselves to grieve. Grief can be good. As long as we have an awareness of who we really are. There are no lessons more significant or profound than the ones grief can teach us. If we allow it to.


Love and Peace,

Rachel

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