Here’s the thing about grief: if you could schedule it, it wouldn’t be so bad. Hour-long sessions of remorse and pain sprinkled throughout the work week would be tolerable if you knew that when the bell dinged, you’d be done and on to the next task. Grief would join the ranks of exercise and laundry; unpleasant but necessary parts of life.
But grief is kind of a jerk.
It sneaks up on you when you weren’t expecting it, when your guard isn’t up, when you are showing your soft underbelly. It is vicious and unrelenting; it takes no prisoners and pulls no punches.
Like when you’re standing in front of your church body, preparing to launch into a praise set with your team. You scan the crowd of faces in front of you when, out of the corner of your eye, you see a ghost.
A friend of mine recently had the same spine surgery that my dad did right before he died. The recovery requires the patient to wear a hard plastic collar to stabilize the head an neck until they heal. He wore that collar for the last month of his life. He was wearing it when he died. Here it was, the same collar, around the neck of a man who bares a striking resemblance to my father, smiling in the second row.
Grief, you sneaky son of a tater tot.
I wish I could say that I handled it well. I wish I had some kind of 5 step list to handing the sudden onslaught of pain that accompanies guerrilla style grief. Honestly, I cried like a baby. By the grace of God and the power of adrenaline, I made it through the set, only to collapse into the arms of a close friend as soon as I was clear of expectant faces.
I thought I had my pain under control. I guess not. Damn.