Like a Ghost

My alternative title for this post is “The Long and Winding Road”  because here’s the thing about grief:  it never ends.  Oh, the intensity of it lessens over time and it looks different every day; some days it’s even mostly absent.  But even in its absence, it is present as a ghost:  hovering, affecting, waiting.  One of the hardest things about my grief is that it is shared.  I feel like I have good outlets for dealing with those difficult moments.  I have patient friends willing to let me expound.  I am blessed with the ability to write as catharsis.  And I have an extremely supportive family who is always quick to sense when I need a hug, a supportive email, or even a change of subject.

But I am not the only one who lost Kate.

After the initial grieving period, my husband had a much different grieving process than I did.  This makes sense, of course, because grief touches every person differently at each stage.  There are many obvious contributing factors – gender, social roles, personality, upbringing, etc.  But regardless of why he acts the way he does, one thing remains troublesome – it is beyond my control.   UGH.  And in many ways, it is more excruciating to watch those you love grieve than to go through it yourself.  At least for me.

My husband’s grief – much like mine – rears its head in unpredictable moments.  This year he was unable to return to the type of job he was working at the time we lost our daughter, mostly because of the residual memories it stirred and the pain and stress that created.  And though I come from a strong matriarchal home and feel equipped to lead our family when called upon, to say that I feel most comfortable in that position would be a lie.  I rely on my husband’s strength and innate leadership (even when I don’t want to admit it), and to see him struggling is honest, but heavy.

My daughters’ grief is ever-evolving as they mature.  My oldest daughter is a nurturing caregiver by nature, and I think she keeps much of her thoughts about Kate inside so as not to upset anyone or bring additional pain.  Recently, however, she was speaking about her experience with losing Kate with some friends and was so emotionally affected that she shared it with me.  I am extremely thankful for the times she is willing to share her heart with me, but it is frustrating to be unable to fix her pain.  My second daughter has recently bemoaned the loss of a younger sister.  She mentioned it in passing, almost out of frustration, but there is pain and loss behind the complaints.

I don’t yet know what it will look like to raise three boys who lost a sister they will never know in this life.  Her name and story come up fairly often, but the limited relationship is almost a more painful burden to bear than if they had known and lost her.  My youngest son at age 3 has created several imaginary friends – one of whom is named Kate.  While I love that he has created some connection at least to her name, it is still not an easy thing to hear.

I don’t envision myself as a control freak, but when faced with this lack of control…

It’s all I can do to maintain a calm, collected front when really I feel like screaming inside ~ out of anger, out of frustration, out of unfairness, out of sadness. Oh, I cry if I need to cry and I speak honestly. I try to let them have the moment they need to and be there with them throughout it… some days it just bites that this is part of our story.

I know God is walking through this with me.  And I remind myself that he is walking with them, too. And then I remind myself that it’s okay to feel this way.  Grief is just like that ~ you kind of make it up as you go along.  But it is there ~ always there ~ like a ghost.



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