Losing a grandparent, a brother/friend, a job, a pet, is different, oh so different, than losing a parent.
The sorrow, the sharp, aching hollowness, the ever present "lump in the throat" that is unlike any before, the sudden, intense dislike of all things Father's Day, those things are new.
My previous experiences with grief have helped me walk through some aspects of this journey, though.
- The realization that there are people for whom I will be the one consoling not being consoled.
- Compassionately and gently deflecting comments meant for support and comfort that really do not bring comfort at all. I move to ban "God has a plan" from all offerings of condolences, ever. There is nothing comforting to me about God planning for my Dad to die. NOTHING. As much as I have clung to Jeremiah 29:11 in the past, that verse isn't bringing me comfort right now. So let's just drop the whole plan thing as a means of comfort, OK? Thanks.
- The awkwardness that comes when someone just doesn't know what to say...I usually don't know what to say either, you are welcome to sit in silence with me and "hold my hand".
- The offering of food or help or "whatever you need". The problem is I really don't know what I need...besides one more hug from Papa Bear and that's not an option on the table.
And then there are those things that have taken me by surprise.
- The overwhelming, and I do mean overwhelming, show of support and compassion from the people in our community. Oh.My.Gosh.
- Newish and older church friends who have reached out through phone calls, texts, cards, hugs.
- People I have known well that haven't said a thing...that has been pretty telling. I'm not sure if that one is a reflection of me or them.
- Hearing stories from former students, Facebook group friends, and others who were impacted by Papa Bear. There are so many things we never knew.
A few years ago, I read an article by someone who had explained grief as a winding road with many twists and turns. Sometimes you will turn a corner and there will be something beautiful that takes your breath away. Then you go around another corner and there will be something horribly hard to deal with and the tears and sadness overwhelm you again. Two weeks into this time of grief and I know those words to be true.
And so, down the winding path I travel...