Thursday, January 15, 2009


My good friend told me this little "scenario" and I think it captures what we're going through pretty well.

Sometimes its hard for people to see us suffering, and they want so badly to help us, but they have no idea how. A lot of times their attempts just pressure us to grieve the way others think we should be grieving, and that makes it even harder and more painful. I don't envy our friends and family in that aspect, I know it can't be easy. Another one of my friends described it as watching her friends being thrown into a pit of fire and being burned alive, and not being able to do anything about it. That seems pretty accurate from my end anyway.

But think of it this know when you clean out a closet that is WAY past due? You have to pull every single item out of the closet and in the process, you end up making a HUGE mess. You have to sort through every item individually...decide whether its still useful, or if it doesnt fit anymore, if its trash or if it can be donated. You end being surrounded by mountainous piles of STUFF. And sometimes it gets so overwhelming that you have to leave the room, shut the door, and leave it be for awhile until you can muster up the motivation to tackle it again. And it ALWAYS ends up taking MUCH longer than you thought it would to finish it!

If anyone came into your house and happened to unsuspectingly open that bedroom door, they'd gasp, "What is going on in this room?!". No one would know that the piles have any meaning, or what method there is to your them it would just look like one HUGE, terrible mess. Even just looking at it would feel so awful to them that they would know you must feel a million times worse. And as they are your friend and care about you, they would probably offer to put everything away for you. But as TEMPTING as that is, you know no one else can do it for you, because no one else knows what is still useful, or what still fits, or what you haven't touched in 5 years and needs to be thrown away. And they don't know how to organize it and put it back in the closet in the way that is the most helpful to you. It might be a quick fix, but in the end YOU are the one who has to do it YOURSELF. So you have to decline their help. The only thing anyone can really do to help is to sit and talk with you while you trudge on.

That is exactly how this feels to me. I have to pull every single thought, idea, feeling, emotion, memory, belief, etc out of my head and look at them each individually. Only it takes a LOT longer to figure out if its still useful to me or needs to be trashed. I have to take them out and sort through them, again and again and again and again. And to everyone else on the outside looking in, I look like a HUGE mess! Through that process of trying to figure out whats still useful, I have to think and say a lot of things that worry people. But it is the ONLY way for me to truly sort through them. Sometimes it gets so exhausting that I have to just leave the mess and forget it for awhile.

That mess scares people, too. They feel how painful it is and they just want me to be happy. They want to tell me what I need and what I don't, so that I can quickly put it all away and be done with it and no one has to look at it anymore. And as TEMPTING as that is, (and trust me, I HAVE attempted to do that) it just DOESN'T work! Because the next time all these feelings and thoughts come up again, I realize that the way they were sorted doesn't work for me and is not helpful. So then I have to pull it all out again and start over. In the end, only *I* can figure out what I need to keep and what makes sense to ME.

The only thing anyone can really do to help is to come keep me company and sit and talk to me (but mostly LISTEN) while I try to sort through this HUGE mess. Sometimes suggestions can be helpful, but mostly understand that what seems helpful to you, may not be helpful for me to hear (at least right now), and in fact, can even hurt more than help. Its not even necessarily what is said, because sometimes what helps one day, doesn't help the next...and it really depends on the frame of mind I'm in at the time.

But the hardest part of all, is to not feel worried and concerned when I say or do things that don't seem "right" to you. It may seem like the kind thing to do when you express your worry to me, but it just makes me feel like I'm not grieving "the right way"...or that you don't have faith in me to work through it. And as soon as I start feeling that, I don't want to open up anymore because I get worried that they'll be even MORE "worried" about me, and then I'll have to worry myself with making them not worried...or I feel like they think less of me or are freaked out by me.

If this all seems really complicated and overwhelming and impossible to you, well, it IS. And we feel that frustration on TOP of everything else! (Welcome to "Life Sucks 101" and by the way, no one gets a study guide!) When in doubt, I guess its better to just say nothing and give us a hug instead. Or bring ice cream. Ice cream is always appreciated.


Hiatt Family said...

I really liked the closet scenario. Seriously, I think you worded it really well. It totally made sense to me, and I kind of wish I would have read that right after I had Jackson. I'm sorry if I made things worse for you. Just know that I care!

Rebecca said...

So, if I lived closer, I would hug you, take you shopping, and then to get ice cream. And I would listen. I love your closet analogy. I totally get it. We love you.

Leeann said...

Still thinking about you daily. How are your other kids holding up?

The Giffords said...

Just tell me what kind and I'll be there. You know I never turn down ice cream. Love Ya!

Colby Kids said...

You have a way with words. You said it so well. There is no right or wrong. Everyone grieves in their own way and at their own pace...and hopefully they are able to find some peace where and when they can. HUGS

nancy said...

i found warm chocolate chip cookies are good too. =) anything given with love and accompanied by a tender hug says, "i care" and is deeply appreciated.
cleaning out closets is extemely exhausting. be sure to get enough rest and enjoy any sweet diversion you may need. i love you.

Becky said...

Thanks Bethany, that is a greta analogy and makes things easier for me to understand. Not that it's important for me to understand...but like, Melody, I don't like seeing you 'thrown into a firey furnace.' I care about you! I know you'll get through this! And I don't think you look like a mess, everytime I see you, you look beautiful. Good to know I can cheer you with ice cream. Any certain flavor??

Emily Ruth said...

I just wanted to let you know I'm cleaning my closet right now too--and it sucks.

Brett and Meredith said...

What a perfect analogy. I've never looked at grief that way, but it seems that you have nailed it with that comparison. And who doesn't need a little ice cream when they are in the middle of cleaning out a closet? Maybe a lot of ice cream. A big hug to you and your sweet family. Feel free to call if you ever need to just talk...I'll listen.

larsen family said...

Can I just copy that and put it on my Kamber blog. You and I seem to think exactly alike. I couldn't have explained the grief behind the loss of a child better. Thanks so much for your post today.
Jen Angel Kamber's Mommy

TheMoncurs said...

I bake a mean chocolate chip cookie. AND! I like to think I give good hugs. Both the cookies and the hugs are yours when you want them.

I totally relate to the furnace thing. I know what you're going through is impossibly hard and painful and watching you go through it is just really hard too. It's difficult to just let you do it and not be constantly trying to figure out ways to throw you a rope and pull you out. I love the closet analogy, I feel like I finally GET it.

I love you!

Melody B. said...

Closet analogy = perfect! You are doing GREAT, yes even on your bad days! When you get that closet put back will be something to be admired. Something that took A LOT of hard work, sweat and tears. I just really can't convey how thankful I am for being allowed to be your friend in this life. I love you!