I thought I’d never reach the so-called “acceptance” stage of grief, and I didn’t want to. How dare anyone think I’d consent to my parents being ripped from my life?
And yet I find myself in a strange place. After a multi-year strangle-hold on my parents’ belongings – which helped me feel close to them – I’m letting go of items far too easily.
I wept briefly a few weeks ago as I took the last Christmas card to my father from an end table. I moved off the land-line telephone and his obituary. He died 11 years ago. That’s how long the time capsule on that table was sealed. We loaded it and the matching coffee table into the truck.
In a few weeks, my husband and I will hold what we’re calling the last yard sale. We’ve sold my parents’ things during a succession of yard sales over the years. I’ve packed about a half dozen 20-gallon tubs with things of theirs I will keep. There’s so much I will keep.
I didn’t feel the characteristic sadness this week while I cleaned up a desk to get it ready. My mother built that desk. I asked for it after watching Marsha Brady working at hers on TV. Marsha was nice and smart and beautiful. I had to be like Marsha. Mom obliged.
Maybe I’ll feel different when someone buys the desk and takes it away. I don’t think I’ll feel nothing. I will watch it until it is out of my sight. But I will let it go without a crying fit.
Here’s some stuff I’ve learned about the “acceptance” stage of grief. Frankly, I think it needs another name, a better descriptor, like maybe the “resignment” stage. I made that word up. To be resigned means to have accepted something unpleasant that one cannot do anything about.
Acceptance doesn’t mean we’re OK with the meteor-sized hole that grief tore into our lives. It means we’ve learned to live with it, and learned to smile again. I think finding things to be grateful for and to be happy about is an important aspect of moving along in our grief. At first, nothing moves us off our mourning. But we keep walking, and the beauty of what’s left unfolds.
We may grieve losing the intensity of grief. Maybe we think feeling the loss less is some sort of betrayal. It isn’t. Our loved ones certainly would want us to remember them, but not always with tears. They’d want us to remember the times we all laughed together.
Grief is a wave, not a rock. It changes as we move through it. And eventually with God’s help we learn to swim. We learn our triggers. We learn how to self-care. We learn it’s OK to move to a different place in our grief because our loved ones will go with us. They remain a part of us.
Maybe you cannot imagine getting to this place. That’s OK. It takes as long as it takes in any way that it takes.
Who knows? Maybe I’ll go backwards again, as the stages of grief are jagged, like a lightning bolt. I’ve no doubt I’ll cry again. And again I’ll feel my parents and my God close by – now that is something I can accept.
Where do you want your grief journey to take you? Are you willing to give it all the room and time it needs?
Copyright 2017 by Toni Lepeska. All rights reserved. www.tonilepeska.com