March 2, 2014

The Emperor Has No Clothes: The Reality of Grief. ~ Jen Lynn Arnold


“Shock is a merciful condition. It allows you to get through disaster with a necessary distance between you and your feelings.” ~ Lisa Kleypas

It never gets easier, it just gets different.

It’s hard to see another year start without him in it, hard to believe it has been three years without him here with us, hard not to remember how valiantly we were fighting for his life at this time in 2011.

Good things are happening in my life, big changes. My oldest son graduated high school and is looking towards the future. It’s hard not to have Tucker, my youngest son, here to share it with us. My life is not always covered in this sadness, joy filters in like God’s Light pours out of a stormy sky.

But I’ve come to realize that I take it everywhere I go.

Like people do, each year grief changes and takes on a new form. I think sometimes it was easier to deal with when the shock and numbness hadn’t worn off: so much was hidden in the dense fog of it, as if you can only bare to see just two feet in front of your face.

In a way, that kind of grief had a protective quality to it—shielding you from the size of it all, allowing you to take it on only a bit at a time. Without the fog this new grief cries loudly, “The Emperor has no clothes.” as it points out how exposed and unprotected I feel in the face of it.

The covering of the numbing fog has lifted and I can see more that two feet in front of me. It’s like looking out at the ocean: I have become aware that I will not ever be able to see the end of it, just the horizon off in the distance. Suddenly the blissful blindness of the shock-induced fog is missed.

The numbing shock that clothed my grief has been ripped away. To say that there was bliss in early grief seems foreign and ironic but compared to the nakedness of this reality, while shocking, it is on some level true by comparison.

The saying that it gets better with time is not true. It just gets different.

hope  Jen Lynn ArnoldI believe that there will always be a certain level of unprotected exposure I will continue to face, moments where I will become acutely aware that the Emperor has no clothes.

This is a realization that regardless of what I put on there will always be this raw unrelenting grief.

As the years move purposefully forward I have learned that time stops for no one, not even when we need a good cry or a corner to sequester ourselves in. I am challenged to get up and get dressed, to seek to clothe myself in hope, joy, love and happiness, even if my undergarments are still sadness.

Maybe they always will be but I must continue to remind myself that it doesn’t have to be the only thing I am wearing.

Maybe that is how it becomes different.


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Editor: Renée Picard

Photo: courtesy Jen Lynn Arnold

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