We have had several friends lose a parent or other relative (sometimes a couple) in the last month. Other friends have experienced the anniversary of the death of a spouse, a parent or a child. Grief seems to be all around us. And from my own experience, I know that what those people are feeling right now is only a piece of the grief journey. It lingers much longer than the day of death, the funeral, and those first days when you try to figure out what life is supposed to look like without that person around.
The other night I was overwhelmed by all of the grieving people in our lives and couldn't sleep so I got up and scribbled this in my journal:
Grief is like the ocean. You wade into the water - you expect this sorrow. It is now a part of your life. Sometimes it barely covers your toes and other times you feel it climbing higher and higher up your legs.
Sometimes, as you stand in the water, you see a wave coming - an anniversary or a birthday or some other event you thought you and the deceased person would share. You see the wave start to build and you brace yourself for it. It jostles you, but you stay standing.
Then sometimes your focus turns back to the beach. You get caught up in life. Or you watch other people go on about their business, oblivious to you standing in the water. As your focus is on the beach or on the ins and outs and ups and downs of the everyday, you never see the wave coming. It crashes over the top of you, taking your breath away - taking your feet out from under you. Your butt's in the sand, you're coughing and sputtering, wiping the water from your eyes and wondering where the wave came from. You thought you had it "together."
In my experience, that is the journey of grief.