Grief is a strange and hard process for me. I’m guessing it’s not really easy for most people. Society sends us messages all the time to be strong, let it go, get over it and be tough, which make stopping to care for our hearts and minds feel like weakness. Grief is painful and for the most part, we understandably try to avoid pain. Many people never engage their stories and traumas from life because it hurts. We have a tendency to say, “hey look, I get up every morning and I function just fine, why go back and stir stuff up?” Again, totally understandable and yet, the going back and engaging the darker parts of our stories helps us create a healthier present self.
When my mom died, I moved into full on survival mode. It should have been a sign that something was wrong that I never went into a depression and I seemed to just keep moving right along. My mom lived with me and took care of the household so a little falling apart would have been OK. Addiction was a great facilitator for creating what seemed like a life put together. A few comments made to me by folks of, ” Well, it’s about time for you to be an adult and live without your mom”, just cemented for me that asking for help was not something I could do safely. So I didn’t enter my pain, I shut it down.
When we have trauma and we don’t address it, it doesn’t just go away. Our hearts and minds get bruised and bashed and their is a healing process that needs to be walked through, but we tend to stop when we get to the deep pain which is the mourning. Mourning is a necessary and critical step in healing because grief is what helps us figure out our new reality and process the new landscape in our lives. We never “get over” anything because trauma reshapes us each time it happens. We are forever changed by trauma, and we are forever changed by grieving the trauma.
A couple days ago I engaged the mourning that had been waiting for me around the death of my mom 9 years ago. I had been pushing grief out of the way and living in various degrees of anger and denial. You have to move through anger and denial as part of the grieving process, I had just lingered longer than I needed to. It was much easier and way less painful to be angry or irritated with my mom and the negative things about our lives together. I was giving power to unengaged trauma and it was keeping me from fully healing. Without walking through the sadness of loss, you aren’t fully healed. I had seen the pain and sadness and looked the other way several times. On this particular morning, I accepted the invitation to enter the pain.
I woke up crying. Two nights before I had a dream where my mom showed up, gave me flowers and we had a long hug. Up to that point, any dream with her in it had me yelling at her. This was peaceful and lovely. The feelings of love for my mom lingered and by Saturday, I couldn’t stop the floodgates. I suppose I could have stuffed the emotions down and not engaged but here’s the deal, I was tired of the trauma having control. I wanted to just face the pain and walk through to peace. God was with me and He knew I needed the healing so I put my faith into action.
I went to the park where I had released my mom’s ashes a few years earlier. It’s on a small beach and has a lovely view of the lake. I flattened out my blanket, turned on my praise music and I just sat. I cried, I laughed, I praised and most of all, I made peace with the pain. For the first time in the 9 years since her death, I let myself miss my mom. And then something strange happened…I played.
Now, I love to laugh and have fun but playing isn’t something I do a lot of. I’m not one to goof around. On this morning though, I was drawn to the water. It was a warm and sunny summer morning, so I rolled my jeans up a little and stepped in just ankle deep. I kicked the water around, watched the ripples and enjoyed the refreshing feeling. Then I did what I have never done before…I went deeper. Before I knew it, I was thigh deep in the lake, in my jeans, throwing water around and getting soaked! I was splashing and laughing and playing. Best of all, I was healing. God had truly turned my mourning into dancing, loosed the pain and gave me gladness. What a feeling!!
God wants to do the same for you. If you are carrying the weight of unengaged trauma, would you be willing to pray and ask God to show you how to move through the pain into peace? It’s scary because pain is an unknown. We all process differently and your pain in healing may last longer than mine. However, life on the other side of pain is joy, dancing and gladness, and God wants all of that for you. He will walk with you through your grief but He won’t push you to walk through. It’s your choice.
Don’t let trauma have a hold on your life. Engage it. Meet it head on and bless it so that you can be free. Message me if you need a prayer partner.