Things are different now. We are missing a family member, one has gone before us leaving an empty spot in our home and hearts. Yet, we have gained an extra member, one that we are not so excited about having along side us for the rest of life. Our new family member’s name is Grief.
Grief likes to reside in the corners and at the most unexpected moments, he will tap you on the shoulder to make sure you know he is still around. He is not a friendly sort of fellow and he chooses the least appropriate times to show up. He likes to come along to church and torment you in public. Sometimes it’s the oddest places, when you pass a certain vehicle on the road or when you see an item in the grocery aisle. He is especially bad when you think you are home alone and in his quiet little way he will usually come around. Grief follows our footprints everywhere we go, at home or abroad.
With the changing of seasons, Grief always comes to life. Christmas is just around the corner and you can expect that he will appear for that too. When we pull out the boxes stuffed with decorations and lights, Grief will sneak up behind us and remind us of the one we are missing who loved Christmas so much. Grief digs up the memories of years gone by, reminding us that Christmas will never be the same again.
When the carols start playing, bells begin ringing and a quiet Silent Night is heard, Grief begins to play his own tune in our hearts. He stirs in the soul reminding us of the love of singing and carols. A tear makes its way down our cheek because singing just isn’t the same anymore, the carols have lost their sweet chime.
The names have been exchanged and we are off to do shopping, but sure enough, he sneaks along for the ride. Sometimes we could almost forget that he‘s there, then we glance at our list and wonder, “Why are there not enough names?” And there is Grief, tapping our shoulders to make sure we remember there is nothing to buy them this year, all of our gifts for them have been given.
We cook and we bake and all the while we are thinking about which person likes these desserts and who likes those sweets. Pretty soon Grief starts stirring and our minds go to those special cookies, the ones he loved so well, and the desire to bake anything just disappears.
Members of different families gather and happy chatter fills the room, people calling hello and catching up. We look around and wonder who is missing and suddenly Grief reminds us, it will always be this way, there will always be someone missing.
We call our family together, the children rustle and squirm in their seats. We look around the circle and each one is there, save one empty chair. Grief wails loudly, bringing attention to the spot, the one who is missing, yet forever in our hearts.
This member called Grief is like a needy child, constantly wanting our attention, crying to be heard and acknowledged. At times he hangs out in the background, quietly allowing some peace, but relentlessly he will surface, unable to let much time pass without a reminder. We can refuse to listen to him when he starts calling, or tell him to be quiet, but he will eventually become persistent enough that we have no choice but to acknowledge him.
Grief is now our ever-present companion, always tagging along. Not only is he with us over the Holidays, but we will live with him for the rest of time. Each time the season changes, every birthday and each beautiful fall day, he will be there. With time, we will get used to having him around but we will always carry Grief’s weight. Carrying him is the price of love, all because someone we loved so very much is missing from our life.