Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise
– Victor Hugo
Life has been full and busy around here for the past few weeks, and my mind occupied with projects and deadlines and activities for the kids. Finally, at the end of last week I felt like I could come up for air.
Except when I took a deep breath, it wasn’t a breath of fresh air. It was heavy and filled with dread. April and Easter are right around the corner, and I hate April.
This is strange, I know, because most people love and anticipate this time of year. Celebrating our Risen Lord on Easter, warmer weather, the beauty of spring flowers and finally having leaves on the trees again, planting the first seeds in the garden, and releasing the kids into the back yard to burn off energy after months (and months and months) of being cooped up inside. Yes all of these things, and more, are reasons to look forward to the arrival of April.
And while I do appreciate these things, for me, April brings with it deep pain and heartache.
Easter of 2012 was the last time my family was all together with my dad when he was still at least somewhat coherent. Looking back, we can see how much we were already losing him, but we didn’t even realize it at the time. He passed away two weeks later on April 21, and we held his memorial service on April 28, which would have been his 60th birthday. The passing of this anniversary has not been an easy one for me in the past.
I tried my best to be prepared this year though. I thought ahead, knew it was looming on the horizon, and have taken steps to put myself in a healthier emotional, physical, and spiritual place in anticipation of marking the three year anniversary. But on Friday afternoon, I hid in my bedroom from the mess of the house and the chatter of the kids, and sat on my bed with tears streaming down my face while I texted my husband to please pick up something for dinner, wondering what was wrong and why I couldn’t seem to get a grip. And then I realized…
April is coming; Easter is almost here. I don’t want to do this again. I want to crawl under a rock and have someone come get me when it is May. Yes, May is safe and happy and everything will be fine then. But not April. I hate April. I don’t want to do April.
My husband came home and wrapped me up in his arms. “I don’t know how to do this,” I whispered, as my tears fell on his shoulder, “I don’t want to have to do this again.” “You can cry all you need to,” he replied, “And we’ll get through this together.”
And so, as much as I feel like I’ve tried to prepare for April this year, I never really know how I will continue to process my grief. I’m going to give myself space to be sad and cry and grieve all over again. Because you never get over grief, you just learn to manage it and live with the new normal of your life without the person you have lost.
And I am trying hard to give myself Grace. To offer to myself the same great Grace that God has lavished on me.
Grace to let go of the guilt of a messy house, of take-out for dinner, of feeling sad and overwhelmed, of hiding from my kids in my room. And then Grace to give myself dance parties with my kids in the kitchen and a gratitude journal next to my bed.
Grace to accept that this is the way I process my grief and grace to let go of the feeling that I should just get over it already. It’s been three years since my dad died, and according to our culture, I should be done grieving. But I’m not. And I’m not ashamed to admit that anymore.
So if you’re hurting, sad, grieving, broken-hearted, or overwhelmed today or any day, please know that there is so much Grace for you. Grace upon grace. And you are not alone.
For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. John 1:16 (ESV)