Grieving can look like (and even feel like) depression. But it’s not depression.
19 years ago in April, 2000, I wrote:
In HtH, tonight, someone offered the most wonderful insight: “I’ve been afraid to do the grief-work I’ve needed to do.”
Me too! I’ve been afraid to mourn and grieve my losses–like the lack of affection or attention in my childhood for example.
I’ve realized recently, as I’ve pondered these principles and prayed for insight, that I’ve stayed away from genuine grieving because grieving looks and feels like depression–at least temporarily–and I’ve always been terrified of admitting depression.
Today, November 2, 2019, as I sit with my husband as ALS takes his life from him and from all who love him, from me, I cannot avoid grieving. Too many grief worthy things have happened in my past that I’ve tried to out-do, out-live, out-run. I can’t this time. NOT this time.
This time I have to spend lots of days in my pajama pants and frumpy old sweater, and leave my hair to grow shaggy and answer the door without pride.
I cry a lot at Church.
Today someone else mows our lawns, brings us our grocery orders, vacuums and mops for us.
And me? I and spend lots of time, sitting with Phil, watching every episode of our favorite totally non-violent, non-explicit TV shows (for 8 or 10 or 12 seasons worth), and just about every episode on the Curiosity channel. Or we read books together (mostly from his favorite author, Louie L’Amour). In more serious moments we are reading one or the other of several books on the end of this life and also on life beyond.
I haven’t been writing much these days (months, years) beyond each morning’s devotional scripture capturing and heart-baring journal entries. One’s like this:
This morning, I realize that I have actually been absorbed in a “death vigil” for nearly two years, and while part of me wants it to have never started, another part of me wishes it would be done. And suddenly comes the truth that I cannot repress: I sleep every night next to Phil’s death bed–in other words the hospital bed that he “graduated” to recently. Every day, we learn what it means to be on hospice–that it means that we’re yet another increment further from “normal” life. For example, I am not to call 911 if things take a terrifying turn with Phil’s condition. I am to call hospice.
Usually, we are all oblivious (and gratefully so) to the fact that our breaths are numbered, but living with someone at this stage of ALS — where every breath is noticeable–I can’t stop realizing mine are too.
Don’t worry, dear reader. This isn’t depression, even if it sounds like it. This is honest, genuine grieving finding its way into words, finding its way to the One who actually promises Zion “beauty for ashes,” and “the oil of joy for mourning.” (Isaiah 61:3)
linda brazas says
your grace and courage are revealed as you express the truth of your experience..thank
you for honesty and clarity…
Colleen Harrison says
Thank you for your kind words.