Christmas is always a tough time of year for our family because we are missing our sweet Ben. It’s been over seven years since he passed away and while we have all learned how to live with our loss, it still feels difficult at times. We always honor Ben by meeting at the cemetery and saying a few words about him, about how we are doing and how much we wish things were different. We often talk about what he would be like today.
This year, I didn’t cry at the gravesite. It was very strange. I had been anticipating the rendezvous with family and friends for days and even placed a small packet of tissues in my pocket. I’ve cried every time I have ever been there. I was even in that funk that I feel before we go. I felt really sad. But the tears didn’t come.
Ironically, while we were there, we talked about “five stages” of grief and I spoke up and said I thought that was a misrepresentation of what really happens. I further explained that grief is not linear. It doesn’t move in a logical progression until you get to “acceptance” and even then, you can still go back and forth between several emotions, depending upon the time of year.
Later, I felt guilty that I didn’t cry. I went for a walk and tried to figure out how I spent time by my son’s grave and for the very first time, there were no tears. Was there something wrong with me? Should I feel guilty about this? How would Ben feel about me not crying?
I think I just couldn’t go to that place of deep pain again. I have found a place, a compartment if you will, for the deepest pain I could ever imagine. I would guess that Ben would be glad that I have figured out how to live with him being in Heaven and he wouldn’t want me crying every time I spend time in the cemetery. And then I realized that maybe I could go there again soon and actually sit and talk with him without having a meltdown or ruining my day bathed in sadness. Something I have always had to plan for and not just “drop by” to say hello.
I am guessing this is finally what acceptance feels like.