God Wins…but can I ?

A Mother's Journey

Still True

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Five years ago this week, I held my daughter in her hospice bed. Beauty and pain mixed together. I wrote this post more than 3 years ago. The content is still true.  Waves of grief still flow and crest. Anniversary dates affect me. If you are grieving, don’t let anyone tell you that you need to get over it. Not. going. to. happen. Nor do we want to “get over” the person who we loved very deeply.

Due to the grace of God and friends, I’ve learned how to stabilize during the days of choppy waters. My love will never ebb – fade away. Thank you for your friendship during this season of life.  Warmly, Marie

Living with grief is similar to living in the ocean.

When I lived on land, my life was solid, firm and pretty predictable. Yes, there was the occasional thunderstorm, but for the most part living on land was emotionally consistent. The earth beneath me kept me well – grounded.

Initially when I lost Leah, grief was like a huge tidal wave. It hit hard, fast and furious.  And the feeling of being stunned numbed me for a period of time. Actually, for a long time. It was similar to the time that I was physically knocked onto a beach in Maui by an ocean wave. The force of the wave slammed my body to the shoreline. As hard as I tried to brace myself, it smacked me to the ground with total indifference. Its power stunned me. Getting up, my legs were off balance and my head instantly ached. I was disoriented and frankly, just glad to be alive and not swept into the deep water. All I thought about was survival. That’s what the moments of Leah’s cancer diagnosis and Leah’s death were like – being hit by an enormous tidal wave.

Blog_Ocean

After the wave hit, grief became the choppy waters after a storm. All I could do was either bob, float or tread water. Having to conserve energy, I’d just focus on moving slowly. I couldn’t swim. I was living in slow motion and just looking right in front of me. Minutes felt like hours. My breathing was hard and sometimes, while treading water, I couldn’t talk. I’d sleep with the bobbing waters around me like a survivor stranded at sea. I’d wake up nauseous with my heart racing and anxious – knowing I had another day with the hard reality of living in the ocean waters facing me. Trying to ride the waves of emotion became a matter of daily survival.

When living in the waters of grief, tears have been minuscule compared to the raging waters that surrounded me. It was actually symbolically comforting to cry in the streams of water that showered me. My tears just became one with the vast ocean of sadness. Others didn’t always see them, but tears were my companions.

Blog_Ocean waves

As I became more familiar with the grief waters, I started seeing beauty in unexpected places. There’s life in the ocean waters. In the depths of sorrow, beauty is below the surface. The kindness and love of others, the joy in memories of Leah, the comfort from God enabled my blurring eyes to focus in on the exquisite life that exists in the deep waters.

Blog_Ocean jellyfish

Sometimes the grief ocean became peaceful. The sun shone, the birds soared and dolphins leapt and all was well. With my soul. All was well. For a time, I enjoyed the present and didn’t think about the last storm or a possible upcoming storm. I lived in the moment of sunshine and basked on the rock of peace and contentment, until….

….the next grief storm. Just as ocean storms are forecasted, there are times when a grief storm was predictable. I expected a grief storm to hit around Leah’s birthday, the day she left us to join heaven and holidays. But there are times, a storm hit suddenly and I couldn’t predict it. Recently, I was at a garage sale and saw an American Girl doll. Suddenly, I saw Leah’s happy face as she opened her first Bitty Baby doll for Christmas and carried it with her everywhere for months. This memory wave hit hard and fast and took my breath away.

In that moment, it felt as though I was being sucked into the ocean floor. It felt as though I was drowning.

But I didn’t drown. Either God, someone, some thought or a prayer sent me a life preserver and I was helped back up for air.

Yes, living with grief is similar to living in the ocean. Although Leah has been gone 18 months, I expect the moving waters of grief to continue indefinitely. The ebb and flow of emotions are with me for the rest of my days. They change my environment forever.

I am not a guest. The ocean called grief is my home.

Family and friends also live with me in this home either because they too have lost Leah, or they have lost another person who they deeply love.

As the years pass, one by one, people for whom I care are guaranteed to join me – moving from living on land to experiencing the dramatic, fluid, unpredictable and stunning life in the grief ocean.

Author: Marie E Guthrie

What can I say about myself? My heart beats fast for my family, friends and calling. Professionally, I have a passion for helping people and organizations tell their stories in a compelling way and I have been doing this fun work my whole career. Never once bored in the marketing and communications profession. Presently, I am providing consulting services to corporate and nonprofit organizations. For seven years, I was the Senior Director of Corporate Marketing and Communications at Awana. I am dedicated to learning how to better love my family members and friends. I am married to a very special man, Mark. I have two children. Grant in his college years - a treasure. My beautiful daughter Leah is now in heaven. Her 14 month battle with cancer has taken me down a road that I never thought I'd go, but I would do it all again. This blog is dedicated to my brave and faithful daughter. At a young age, I was drawn to the sacrificial love I learned about as I was taught about Christ. My heart since age eight was transformed from total selfishness to a heart that desired to love God and others. This love has driven who I am - far from perfect, but dedicated to the One who loves me more than any human ever could. I have questions for God about the story of my life; I wrestle with Him about losing Leah, but He and I go deep. Still feel His arms around me. We are taking it day by day.

5 thoughts on “Still True

  1. Thinking about you, Mark and Grant this week, my friend. I still remember with grief, tears, sorrow and tender hope… thank you for allowing us to enter your world of grief, beauty, gut-wrenching loss and divine hope. Your beautiful girl has continued to shine her light into this world through you. You honor her well, my friend! With love, Gail

    Sent from Gail’s iPhone

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  2. ❤️

  3. Marie – you write so beautifully. My heart is heavy but joyful knowing that Leah is no longer hurting and….you continue to keep her spirit, memory and love with us.
    I love you
    AJ

  4. Marie: I was just as deeply moved this time as I was the first time I read “Living with Grief/Still True”. It’s painful honesty and poetic beauty take my breath away. This time around, the section that hit me the most, “I expect the moving waters of grief to continue indefinitely. The ebb and flow of emotions are with me for the rest of my days. They change my environment forever,” was an awakening for me. It expresses exactly how I feel in relation to all the loss Luis and I have experienced in recent years, starting with his mom’s passing in 2004. I realized that not only do we grieve for our loved ones, we are also quietly grieving for ourselves – for who we USED to be prior to the loss. That part of us that was pure, innocent and thought that everyone we love will be with us forever. Then, tragedy pays us a visit, we grieve, we live our lives, we remember and honor those we’ve lost, and realize WE have changed. Sometimes for the better (perhaps having more compassion for others; embracing life fully; living more in the moment) and sometimes for the worse (when bitterness, anger and depression rear their ugly heads). At the end of the day we carry the scars of grief with us – some visible, some not. Having a platform to voice our feelings, like your blog, is a loving way to grieve openly, get our feelings out, honor our loved ones as well as the part of us that went with them when they passed. Thank you Marie.

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