Joy and The Grief Season

Joy and The Grief Season

If you have ever experienced a great loss then you probably know one of the big secrets of grief...the build up to the anniversary days is FAR worse than the day itself.  You can easily spend weeks dreading the arrival of the day. The day comes...Christmas, a Birthday, the death anniversary...and somehow, miraculously its just not quite as bad as you were bracing for. That time, the build up, I call the grief season. 

This year, the anniversary of my Mom's death falls on Mother's Day. I kid you not. May 8th is looming ahead and that means we have entered the grief season.

Every year sometime between my daughters birthday (April 22) and May 1, I get slammed with the beginning of the grief season.  We entered on April 23 this year so I am hopeful that I have already worked through the worst of what will come.  This year the grief season entered all wrapped up in a trio of joyous celebrations-2 birthdays and a wedding. And isnt that the way it is sometimes?  The grief comes because you are missing the one to share the joy with.

I had the honor of being a guest at our beloved WorldsBestBabysitter's wedding on the 23rd. I spent the day very busy with flower duties and mother of the flower girl duties. Kelsey was a stunning bride (wearing her grandmothers wedding dress and Elise was a perfect flower girl.) There was a moment during the reception where Josh and I were watching Kelsey, my brother and all their friends on the dancefloor and it suddenly felt like a mack truck hit me.

Welcome to the grief season.

That group of 20somethings on the cusp of true adulthood, still so tightly bound together as a group and celebrating a huge milestone with abandon. It was beautiful.  And yet so painful to watch knowing how desperately joyful my Mom would have been at that moment. 

Joy/Grief. It is an AND thing not an OR thing. For that I am grateful. It can be so hard to be in an AND place. Experiencing grief plus anything else is exhausting and often confusing. But friends...OR is so so much worse. Can you imagine going on knowing there was only room for Grief OR Joy?! 

I have been reading Colors of Goodbye by September Vaudrey, a beautiful book full of tragedy and joy. And I love this excerpt that I read last night:

Life is hard, and tragedy strikes. Also life is stunningly beautiful. Both/and. But our circumstances do not have the power to steal our joy without our permission. If our purpose, our identity, our sense of God's direction hinged upon a pain-free life, how precarious the world would be. 
 

Grief season, or not, we carry on.  We use the AND instead of the OR to find the joy. Everyday. And we celebrate it.  

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Photo Credit: Our beautiful kids circa 2014 Ashley Brown Photography