A dear friend sent me a comforting email. It was like a soothing balm. She seemed to know just what to say to soothe my soul. I think she’s wise, and knows me well, so I take what she says seriously. I’m still processing one small part of what she said. (and you have to realize that she wrote this weeks ago, and I still haven’t figured it out, so I invite your comments). “You really seemed not to miss a beat to grieve. You entertained, shopped (for new appliances) and arranged for installation, entertained some more, blogged, taught, had conferences, turned in grades, made difficult personnel decisions for the church. Much more, too, I imagine. Please grieve.” This is taken out of context and I must say that the rest of the email was full of wonderful, lovely, sweet encouragements, and I view this comment as loving, too. She was not critical of me or how I’m grieving.
I have had nonstop company since Mom died. Friends from Palo Alto left this morning. Friends from Japan are in town and I’d love for them to stay the night, and another friend from England is coming Sunday. Last weekend the girls were all home. I had a blast listening to them and being with them, and seeing them together as sisters. The weekend before we provided a much-needed respite and listening ear to a friend of a friend who is Burmese, but is studying at Santa Monica City College. I loved hearing about her life as a foreigner, and about her home country. Before that the friend who wrote me the email and her husband were here. They showed me abundant love. Before that I was celebrating my birthday in San Clemente with M, who is like a mother to me. She has 9 children and calls me #10. I always come home with good memories when we’ve been together. So which of these things do I give up to give myself time to grieve?
Or do I give up the work I’m doing on the Albania Task Force where I can see people getting behind the vision we’ve presented in a way that will make a life-changing difference for the people at Emanuel Church in Tirana? Or do I give up my work on Personnel TEAM at church, where I feel I’ve impacted and encouraged and helped my friends? Being on this committee is sort of like seeing the kitchen of your favorite restaurant. You learn things you might have been happier not knowing. But the joy comes in using my gifts and talents in ways that I can see positive change. We’ve had some tough issues to work through these last two months, and I’m proud of what we’ve accomplished. Or do I give up Stephen Ministry where I work closely with a team of five dear friends whose giftedness is in giving compassion to hurting people? I feel strong support from this ministry. Do I not buy appliances, turn in grades, and teach?
So how do I take time to grieve? What do I give up? It feels like some of these things bring comfort and healing. Others, like the appliances and report cards are tasks that must be done. Or am I deceiving myself and I’m really just avoiding the grief? What’s the difference between doing the things that bring me joy and keeping too busy to grieve? Spending time with people has kept me busy, but it’s also brought me perspective from talking things over with people I love and who love me. How does one take time to grieve?