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The Subtle Ways an Oyster Makes a Pearl

Oyster and pearl near Sanctuary Christian Counseling in Shippensburg PA

I started to write this blog post weeks ago. Typically words flow easily for me but this post was personal and more of a challenge to articulate. We all experience loss in our lifetimes. Each person grieves and mourns differently. Many of you have probably heard the expression that our grief is as individual as our fingerprint. When it happened to me with the sudden loss of my husband five years ago, I was unaware of the stages and types of grief. I just knew that my world was forever changed. Sudden loss leaves you no time for goodbyes.

During the last five years, I have traveled in and out of every stage of grief more times than I can count. Many changes follow the loss of a loved one. Change is also a form of loss and must be grieved. In an instant my role as a mother changed dramatically. I was now an only parent. I felt terrified. Fear set in. How could I do this all alone? This wasn’t the life I imagined. I was not just grieving the loss of my life partner, I was also grieving the loss of my parenting partner. The man I was to share each developmental milestone of our children with. The man I could go to when I was afraid or needed reassurance. The man that would back me up if my teenager disrespected me. The man that would teach our sons how to drive and guide them into adulthood and talk to them about sex and peer pressure. The man that would walk our daughter down the aisle. I was now their only parent and ALL the responsibility fell on me. I felt I was drowning in a sea of newness and for someone that doesn't like change, I felt overwhelmed. It was many of the little things that caught me off guard, such as the challenge of how to master riding a zero-turn lawn mower. Every day presented a new challenge that required a new me. I felt so removed from the person that I once was. At the time, I was so busy in survival mode that I couldn’t see that I was changing. It reminds me of the subtle ways an oyster makes a pearl. Slowly and deliberately, a new me and a new life was emerging, even though at the time I has little awareness of the formation.

Many of my close relationships changed too as our friends were also grieving his loss. When you are married you go out as couples, I was now single. Though I was still included, it was different- different for me and different for them. One of my closest friends reflected on how that felt for her. “I didn’t know where I fit in in your life anymore. I know you had so much you were going through and I didn’t know how to help but I also felt like I lost you because you didn’t have time for me the way you used to.” I appreciated her honesty and it also to some extent brought me out of my own grief. I realized that my children and I were not the only one dealing with the loss.

Grief is a life-long journey. It can be messy and unpredictable. It is unique to each person that travels through it. It challenges you to go inward to begin repair. It is uncovering yourself one foot forward, one step at a time. It is what I continue to do each day, but most importantly I know that I couldn’t do it alone and I have to be open to the process. It has taught me to rely on God and my faith. It has shown me support like I didn’t know existed. It has taught me I am stronger than my fears and it has also taught me that I can love again and life can be beautiful. It will never be the same, but it can be beautiful. If grief has touched your life, you don’t need to struggle alone. We are here to help.

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