Frequently in my writings I allude to the idea that grief is like an ocean; in the last few days, this metaphor has struck me as particularly insightful into my experience.
When Judson died, it was as if I was dropped into an ocean, an ocean of grief. For quite some time, I did not think I was going to survive. I was struggling to keep my head above water, gasping for breath, and flailing about. All my eyes could see was a vast expanse of grief; every direction I turned, I saw more ocean.
BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! One after another, the waves kept pounding me.
Amazingly, rather than having the ocean of grief swallow me completely, I slowly began to gain strength, strength enough to tread water. The waves continued to crash upon me, but I started to stabilize and get my bearings.
As more time passed, the waves seemed to slightly subdue, and my treading water slowly turned into a listless, yet steady swim. Though completely submerged and surrounded by grief, I discovered that I was actually moving toward a very distant shore.
Then BOOM! Ferocious waves hit again from what seemed like nowhere and started tossing me about some more.
I was plunged back into the depths of the sea, but this time I knew to keep my eyes on the Light, all the while pushing toward it. I reemerged, got my bearings, and as the pounding waves began to subside, I started moving again.
I continued to be drenched and immersed in grief, but discovered that I was functioning. I was even gaining confidence in my ability to swim.
Then BOOM! Another wave.
Thus goes the ocean of grief; I’m immersed in it, tossed around by it, but learning to swim.
My grief is currently ever-present around me, but I am becoming more and more adept at living in it. I find that the violent, suffocating waves are lessening in frequency, but when they hit, they hit extremely HARD.
This ocean is a mighty, powerful, body of water. The tide is never steady. I have no ability to control it, but am growing in my capacity to respond. There are times the water is more placid, giving me a reprieve in my grief where I am able to swim with greater fervor. Other times it may stir like a tempestuous storm, impeding my movement and requiring me to willfully persevere under the staggering realities. All in all, it is terribly exhausting. However, I believe a time will come, when after months and months and months of swimming, that, though still up to my neck in grief, I may actually begin to feel the ground beneath my feet. My weary soul might, in fact, be able to stand.
Although I expect to be in this ocean for the rest of my earthly life until I am on eternity’s shore, I anticipate there will come a time when the water is simply lapping at my knees; the grief is present, but I am no longer fully submersed in it. I may still get hit and even knocked over by unexpected waves, yet the rip tide no longer threatens to take me under.
Anyhow, for now, I’ll just keep swimming with hope toward that blessed shore.