When Melanie went to heaven I stepped out in faith and removed the mask I’d been wearing for many years. It was a giant step for me, but it was one full of fear. Fear of being judged. Fear of being shunned. Fear of tarnishing her memory. Fear of just about everything. At the time it felt good to remove the mask. Freeing. It was heavier than I had ever realized.
Over the last few weeks I sensed that familiar feeling begin to creep back in. Here I am 8.5 months down the road and I’m still stumbling around on this grief journey. The waves have been crashing down all around me this week and I feel overwhelmed and crushed in spirit. Again.
Unfortunately, this mask and it’s weight have started to take it’s toll on me – physically and emotionally. As my physical self begins to break down, it only invites my old friend, Fear, in. Fear begets stress and stress begets anxiety. It’s like being on the worst merry-go-round ride ever!
Someone I respect, who is helping me walk this path, told me I need to stop being strong and take my mask off! Stop trying to handle it all. Stop swallowing the tears and sadness. Let them flow. Be who you are in this season of your grief journey. It’s okay to let people see your tears – even my young son, who I have been “protecting.” As The Beatles said, Let it Be.
I’ve often said, tears are cleansing and I truly believe that. However, there has also been that little voice inside my head that says, “You’re a cry baby! Get over it – people die! And, the loudest voice I have been hearing is, “No one wants to hear you crying about Melanie any more. You’re going to lose all of your friends and family if you keep this up!”
So this week when I was told I need to take my mask off and be who I am in this moment of time, I swallowed hard and cried. Tears that I’ve been keeping pent up flowed. Tears for the loss of my girl who I love and miss terribly. Tears for all that will never be. There were also tears of gratitude to God for giving me my girl for 38 years. For some parents that is a lifetime longer than what they had.
For today, I will remember that taking good care of myself is not selfish. Self-care is healthy and good for me. Each day my goal will be to remember that I am truly not alone. God is always with me, walking beside me and lifting my head. All I need to do is look up!