“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.” Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8
On Sunday, January 24th my Grandma’s time on this Earth came to an end. It wasn’t at all sudden or unexpected, and I’ve been really struggling with reconciling the emotions I am experiencing with the emotions I think I should be experiencing.
If you are someone who knows my parents, then you are aware that they exist on opposite ends of the emotional spectrum: my father being hyper-logocial, and my mother being hyper-emotional. This combination has created within me, their offspring, a neverending turmoil of two extremes. I am constantly being pulled in both directions when faced with processing big events such as these.
The part of me that is my father wants me to just rest in the facts that not only am I thousands of miles away and therefore can’t do much about the situation, but that death isn’t really a situation anyone can do much of anything about to begin with. Her children and husband were able to say their goodbyes, and in terms of dying during the middle of a pandemic, this seems like it was a relatively ideal one. Also that it was a death of a believer that had been in the process of dying for many years, and being united with our Creator shouldn’t be a sad thing.
Yet, the part of me that is my mother is pulling me towards a well that is overflowing with years of unprocessed emotions related to my Grandma, and death in general. This part is still there to remind me that I never fully processed the death of my last grandparent, that occured over six years ago. To dredge up every emotion that one could experience in the event of death. This part doesn’t however give me much direction in terms of which emotion I should be feeling at any given moment. Am I lonely being so far from family? Am I upset I wasn’t able to say goodbye? Am I guilty for not putting more of an effort into my relationship with her? Am I nostalgic for the times of my life I spent with her? Am I disappointed that she will never know my potential future children, or anything about my potential future?
The likely answer is that I am a combination of all of these things and more than I still cannot accurately name. I just feel them all at once that it is hard to identify which feeling it is, and if it cannot be identified, then it cannot be dealt with. When I can’t see a way of dealing with it, then I do my best to simply bury the emotions deep, and pack them away until a time when it will be more convenient for me to deal with them.
But grief is never convenient. It doesn’t work around the schedules we make for ourselves, and it certainly doesn’t care about disrupting those plans. I found myself most days this past two weeks focusing on the fact that I was busy; I had work to do for school, I had friends coming into town, I had packing to do for an upcoming move, etc. I had other things that needed my attention, so I kept pushing the grief aside and trying to schedule the mourning for a time that would be more convenient for me.
“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” I am certainly not the one making the cosmic schedule of when it is time to be born or die, and yet I still strive for control over when it is time to weep, mourn, and dance. I feel God teaching me during early days of grieving my grandma to trust the instincts He has placed within me when it comes to experiencing my emotions. I don’t need to justify or have a “good” reason to cry – if I feel to cry, then it is time to cry. I don’t need to justify or have a “good” reason to dance – if I feel to dance, then it is time to dance. I don’t need to justify or have a “good” reason to be silent – if I feel to be silent, then it is time to be silent.
The greatest gift of drawing close to God’s will and forging it with my own, is that I don’t need to question the natural flow of things like emotions. God granted me the ability to experience a wide range of feelings, and I am learning that they are not something I need to control or fully comprehend. No one ever taught me how to grieve, and I think it is okay to not know how and to just grieve.