Membership is supposed to have its privileges, but there is one membership card I would like to throw out the car window, drive over a few times, get out and light a match to it. This card never seemed appealing before I received it (in fact, I don’t think I knew the card existed before I abruptly received it), I did not apply for it, and I have no idea how I was picked to receive it.
It seems like this particular club likes to accumulate members, but none of the members are excited about joining. We often do not even realize that there is a club. For some of us, membership catches us totally off guard – it happens completely out of the blue for some while for others we see it coming but do not want to accept it.
This card is not a physical card, nor is this an actual club…though it certainly is starting to seem like one as membership increases almost weekly according to my Facebook feed.
I am not even sure what to name this club as clubs should have catchy names that make you want to join, pay your dues, and spend time hanging out. And that is not what this club is about.
After being in this club for over a decade, I am ready to get out. The problem is that I can’t. Once a member, always a member…but there are no beneficial privileges for members of this club. The privilege of this club is a life sentence of grief, heartache, and pain.
I talked about this club with a friend through Facebook messaging yesterday, but it was not the first time that the concept had rattled around in my brain.
When we were kids, we wanted to belong to something, to be a part of a secret club, to gain membership to something…and these clubs/groups were appealing if they were the more exclusive, the more particular in their qualifications, or the more narrow the field of possible entrants. We wanted entrance to something exclusive.
Well – nothing is more exclusive feeling than grief, huh?
I stand here today with all of you in the club and say that grief is a hard road, and – though I know it is impossible to do so – I would like to exchange my membership card and get my loved one(s) back. I may know things now that I did not know before, but I would trade that information, feeling, and understanding back in…
Unfortunately, there is no getting out of the club. We are here, membership is growing, and we are stuck with trying to figure out this new way of living. I would like to say that there is a way out, but there is only a way a through.
So – here is where I am today with my membership status: I am a more senior member than someone else (my mom passed away 11 years ago), and that makes me responsible to turn toward the “newbies” and lend a hand. While I did not ask to be a member, I do have responsibilities as a senior member. I need to be aware of that…and maybe that is why I not only write blog posts about my grief (because the writing is for me) but also hit publish when I am finished.
To all who have recently joined the club, here are some truths about the longer standing members.
- We will not ask you to get over it. While we know that accepting the death of a loved one is important, we will never ask you to claim that you are over it. It will hurt like crazy sometimes even years after you have started to breath normally again. But you may also have good days sooner than you think, and that is ok too.
- We will do our best not to say stupid things. There are loads of dumb things that we have said to others in the past that we had said to us as we experienced the passing of a loved one. We have attempted to put them into our “don’t ever say that again” catalogue. However, we may let one slip sometime, and we hope that you will point it out, laugh with us about what a dumb thing it is to say to a grieving person, and still be our friend…because we still need friends too.
- We can handle your tears. And we might just cry with you when you cry. Do not be alarmed by this. Tears are good for us, they cleanse our bodies of bad toxins, and they refresh our eyes so that we can see (both literally and figuratively) better.
- We will listen over and over again. It will seem that the rest of the world moves on, and it does. We all need to realize that. But – when you need to say how sad you are, how confused you are, and how hopeless you feel, we will listen, we will try not to fix it, and we will do our best not to share our story instead of listening to yours…unless you want to hear it…because we sometimes need to tell it too.
To those of you not in the club yet, don’t worry…it seems that eventually everyone is in, and we all just keep getting more and more into the inner ring and our cards get upgraded. The good news is that you really are not alone…even when you feel that way. While there are plenty of others in the club (and I am thankful for the guidance of others who joined before me and who cared for me in my earliest membership days as well as now), there is One who knows grief in a way that we could never fathom.
If you would like to read more about how God brings hope through grief, click here.