*Excerpts taken from the forthcoming book Courageous Surrender by Cindy Limbrick.
Please. Don’t make me do this.
Deep within… the tension wars between two realities. The reality of yesterday, where day to day life moved along with a few dreams sprinkled in for good measure and the now, unfathomable reality of today. Alone, in our bedroom I place my husband Chuck’s gold wedding ring on my thumb and reach for his favorite sweatshirt lying on the chair where he had taken it off the day before. My hands clutch the well-worn fabric with the smell of him lingering in its threads. Burying my face in the material… I inhale… breathing him in. Inside… my spirit is eerily quiet. There are no tears… at least in these moments. For now, there’s just this mysterious quiet within. Who knows, maybe it’s the shock buffering me from the onset of pain, or maybe it’s the familiar surrounding me that’s the glue holding me together.
In one sense it appears nothing has changed.
Chuck’s dirty clothes thrown on top of the hamper. His toothbrush and toothpaste lie on the counter edge of his bathroom sink. A quarter, a stick of gum and a drum key lie on the marble counter where he’d emptied his jean pockets. Photos of our wedding hang on the walls. On the floor on his side of the bed sit his slippers. His favorite coffee mug empty on his nightstand. His pillow holding the imprint of where he laid his head. All this familiar offers me comfort. But the involuntarily shivers invading my body validate this new reality that everything has changed.
Please… please don’t make me do this.
I’m not entirely sure what I thought God would do with my whispered words regarding these life-shattering moments. What His response would be…
Would He wake me from this nightmare of shock and death’s darkness to discover Chuck alive, just down the hallway, working on new music in his studio? Would my cell phone ring and his voice be on the other end saying, “Skittles, tell me how much you love me.” Or maybe… God would just magically remove me from this earth.
This new, unwanted reality of today slowly begins to fracture the comfort of my familiar. With the onset of tears beginning to pool in my eyes, I bury my head once again into Chuck’s sweatshirt.
Don’t make me do this.
The definition of loss is simple: what once was and is no more.
But grief’s journey is complex. It is a complicated, heavy, winding, chaotic path. Each one of us at some point or another loses someone or something significant throughout our life stories. Death, divorce, careers, miscarriages, relationships, changes within our families, the process of aging, our dreams, hope and yes… even cherished broken coffee pots.
To be human is to know loss. It is unavoidable.
And as unique as each person is made to be so is our journey with loss and grief. No two paths will ever look the same.
Loss has a way of breaking us open, exposing raw, unexpected emotions and questions hidden deep within. It shatters us in our core and can cause us to question what is real? What is truth? Who am I? What, if anything was the purpose? Why did this happen? What did I do?
It is a crucial, courageous decision to allow oneself to explore and express the endless emotions and questions deep within. And it is just as crucial to surrender the process and allow the work of grief and the Holy Spirit to guide us to a place of quiet… where the lessons hidden amidst the shattering can make themselves known… not all the answers… but yes, the lessons.
Over the course of these last four years, my pleading words of please don’t make me do this have given way to I don’t want this to be my story. Days of numbness, depression, loneliness, anger, and deep sadness have more than once threatened to crush me.
But time and space have given way to the unexpected.
God didn’t answer my hushed whispers that day. He didn’t change the devastating reality I found myself in. He didn’t bring Chuck back. And obviously, I’m still here so there was no mysterious magical disappearing act.
But what He has done to my surprise and recent discovery has been to invite me into my own story. Together we’re slowly sifting through the good, the ugly, the difficult, and all the pain. He’s showing me where the importance of forgiveness and gratitude goes hand in hand with knowing what to let go of and what to hold onto.
In the smallest pockets of healing are truths coming in the form of words and images which in turn are bringing clarity and a better understanding of who I am, who Chuck was and the important lessons of our life together. There’s an ongoing revelation of who God is, His unconditional love and just how faithful He is… in all His promises.
And all of this… these life-shaping, critical lessons are needed for the remaining chapters in my story.
Clearly, I’m still on this complicated pathway of grief. But I want to personally invite those who are experiencing loss of any kind to come join me for a special class we’re calling The Good Grief Journey. Together, let’s learn from each other in a safe space how to express the deep within.
Grief finds healing in community. So prayerfully consider this and come be a part of mine.