so if it matters, Let It Matter

FullSizeRender.jpg.jpeg I woke up this morning and followed my usual routine.  I checked my social medias, always ending with Timehop – that app that shows you what you’ve posted this day on years past.  Before I even tapped on that little yellow blue square I knew what I would find.
Today’s the 7th anniversary of the day he passed away.  I knew that I would scroll through those pictures posted on this day over the last several years.  Always a family picture with some caption on how much I miss him.  But this morning as I contemplated what to share – what picture, what story, how to convey the ache in my heart that feels a little deeper today.
But I couldn’t quite figure it out.  I couldn’t figure out why planning my usual Instagram post wasn’t making me feel better.  So instead I got up, got ready, slid my dad’s old watch onto my wrist and went about my day.
But I still felt off.  The thing with grief is that it never really plays by the rules.  There isn’t a time table or a playbook that you can consult to know what is the right course of action. So you just try to keep going and hope you’ll find the way.  Today felt a little like that.  If I’m honest, a lot of days feel a little like that.  The weirdest things will trigger that pull of loss.  And it will knock me off my axis.
Over these past 7 years I’ve found a few ways that help me get back on track when I’m feeling the tug.  Instead of completely shutting down, I’ve learned to cope.  Here are a few of my methods –

Invite someone into the pain

I think that’s what I’ve always tried to do with my “tribute” posts.  Maybe even what I’m trying to do with this blog post.  A lot of people around me have experienced loss.  God has placed people into my life that have similar grief to my own.  Those people have entered into my story with me: asked questions to know more about my dad, given me space to not be 100%, prayed for me, not pressured me into moving too fast.  Grief looks different for everyone, those that have entered into my grief with me and allowed me to feel it however I need to in a specific moments are the friends I continue to turn to on this day every year.

Do something that brings you joy

Today I started a mentoring program that our church is doing at a local elementary school.  It was our first day, so I met my mentee for the first time today.  I’m a long time fan of mentoring and have always seen the fruit of spending one on one time with a child or youth.  That simple act today – getting to know my mentee brought me a kind of joy that helped me see how the pain of my past could be used to help someone else.

Take your mind off it

Sometimes what I need is to occupy my mind.  To remind myself that the world around me is still turning even if my heart is broken.  I’ve learned to recognize that in myself, especially more recent years, that I am strong enough to close the box on the grief.  Somedays I need to remind myself that grief is real but it’s not in control.  I am in control of my emotions.  There were countless times today that I had to refocus myself, to not let my grief mess with what I was doing.  It’s a skill I’ve learned over time but an important one that I’m glad I have now.  No longer do I have to let grief completely shut me down.

When all else fails – Let it matter

There’s a song off of JOHNNYSWIM’s new album called Let it Matter.  Both members of the couple lost one of their parents and they wrote this song in their grief.  One of my favorite lines is – “I don’t wanna feel better, I don’t wanna feel good, I wanna feel it hurt like losing someone should.”  If my last one was knowing when I need to take my mind off of it, this one is about knowing when I can’t take my mind off of it.  As they say in the song – “if your heart is breaking let it ache.”  Some moments I need to let it matter.  I need to cry or vent or feel the depth of losing my father to an awful disease that robbed me of several good years and half a lifetime of memories.
I loved my dad.  I still miss him, I will always miss him.  He left this life too soon and it’s not fair.  Grief is never fair.
If you’ve lost someone you love, maybe this resonates with you.  Maybe my words can help you on the road to figuring out what makes you feel normal again.  Because that’s what grief does to you – it takes away your normal.  When the world around you is still spinning, still planning, still going on as if there wasn’t a gaping hole in your heart, you have lost your normal.   Then you’re left figuring out a new normal, but even trying to find a new normal reminds you that you lost your normal.  And the cycle continues.
There’s no way out of the cycle.  But, dear friends, you are not alone.  We’re in this together.  We’re walking the road together.  Let’s find some ways to cope together – I’ll share mine if you share yours.