Our society is one obsessed with organization. There are even stores that sell nothing but storage bins and totes of all different colors and sizes. Good thing, so we can put our excess stuff on a shelf, in the closet, or under the bed, in style. The world tells us that stacking everything neatly is much better than spreading our belongings out in the middle of the floor to sort them one-by-one.
I’m finding my emotions aren’t much different than the “things” I tuck away into their designated storage spaces. The “bad” feelings are folded up and buried beneath the daily have-to-do’s. The “good” emotions (the ones that lift me up and draw others to me) flow freely like the toys that are forever strung across my family room floor.
I never consciously chose to avoid feeling sadness, longing, anger or grief – all of the emotions that weigh down a smiling heart. But like a storage tote stuffed too full, the lid popped off and pain spilled over the sides.
After my grandma passed away, I acknowledged my loss and allowed myself to cry for my own sadness, knowing full well they were selfish tears. My mind knew I didn’t need to cry for her because she was free.
Within weeks, I returned to “life as usual,” whatever that means, because my life is one continuous crazy mess. There was enough going on that I didn’t dwell on missing her, or my grandpa, who passed away several years ago. I thought I had healed, but it turns out that healing is a process of relapse and recovery.
Going to my grandparents’ house was much more difficult than I thought. Food needed to be cleared out of the house, and I knew being in that house made my mom sad, so I told her my husband and I could do it. My husband took the lead and I held trash bags open. Silly as it sounds, I felt like pitching the expired food was like tossing pieces of my grandparents’ lives away.
My mom surprised me by showing up and filling more bags to take to the landfill. I distanced myself from the labels I peeled off her prescription bottles; I made myself focus on the “things”, not the owner. It wasn’t until I reflected on it later that night, and days later, that tears fell and I recognized that my wound had opened up again.
Tempting as it is to slap a bandage over it, I’m not going to. Eventually, joy will replace grief. This metamorphosis is promised in the Old Testament of the Bible (Jeremiah 31:13) as well as in the New Testament when Jesus prepared the disciples for His death (John 16:20). One of my favorite songs, Before the Morning, embodies this message. It’s hard not to feel some joy after listening to it 🙂
I’ve thought of my mom often throughout the week. Neither one of us cried in my grandparents’ house. I wonder if her tears come at night too; if her wounds are healing, just as mine are.