I wake up in the morning to my first alarm. I silence it. There doesn’t seem to be much point in waking up, yet again. I go back to sleep for another couple of hours, and my second alarm goes off. I stumble out of bed, ready for my coffee. It doesn’t taste as good as it used to—no longer rich and satisfying, energizing or uplifting. It tastes flat. Just like my life.
After eating breakfast, if I even bother to eat it, I head downstairs to the room I have dubbed as my “Pony Room.” In this room reside approximately four hundred fifty My Little Ponies, though since my shopping therapy game has increased exponentially, so has my collection. Once upon a time, just seeing them uplifted me heart and soul, like a second cup of coffee and a sense of connection to my childhood. Nowadays, I’m lucky if I get a smile out of them, which makes me wonder while I’m still buying the stupid things.
The “Pony Room” is also my “Writing Room,” where I have a computer desk comfortably situated under the window well. Two lamps sit on the desk: one is a gooseneck lamp, while the other is a broad spectrum therapy light. I use the therapy light to battle Seasonal Affective Disorder. In the past, using it for more than a half hour made me hyperactive, per the warning on the instruction manual. Nowadays, it barely combats the lethargy and sadness that permeates every aspect of my life, even when I use it for an hour or more.
I flip on both lights, open my laptop computer, and make a feeble attempt to write. Some days, it works. Other days, I write nothing and feel like a total failure as a human being. I shut the computer, flip off the lights, head back upstairs, and go back to bed.
This is grief. This is what it looks like. This is what it feels like. It is not all just crying and sobbing, though that is a definite part of it. Grief sort of strips me of my will and ability to enjoy everything. It makes me think over and over again how my parents died in a tragic fire, and that I will never see them again in this life. It touches every part of my life, every single day.
When a new book from my dad’s and my favorite author is released, I pull out my cell phone to send him a text, and then it hits me: he’s not there. When I find a great new show that I want to tell my parents about, and tell them how good it is and why, they are not there. When I want commiseration from my mom about my poor housekeeping skills, it’s not there. All the little things they did that held me up and supported me are gone.
“You are deeply grieving,” my counselor told me.
Yeah. I figured that out on my own. But the full depth of the words did not hit me until this morning.
Grief mimics the very thing that causes it: death. It strips everything away and leaves me feeling utterly lifeless. This phase of grieving I’m in—depression—is like death in life. Nothing seems to touch me to my center anymore except for sadness. I drown my days in stuff like books and TV shows and anything to distract me, but even that excitement is dulled and colored with sadness. I laugh during games—I laugh really hard, but the ache inside me never goes away.
I feel dead.
But my counselor’s words reminded me: I am not dead. I am grieving.
And in order to grieve, you have to be alive.
So I continue my routine. I drink my coffee. I try to take a few moments to admire my collection. I try to write. I sit in front of my therapy lamp. I watch my TV shows or read my books. I play games with my family. And I keep reminding myself that I am alive, even when I feel completely dead.
I’ll say it again: grief is a lot like death.
Fortunately, however, I know somebody who has conquered death, so I do not mourn as those who have no hope. My God, Jesus Christ, is my hope. My God, Jesus Christ, is my life. And He is the life of my parents, too. So even though I feel like I am dead right now, even though I am deeply grieving, even though I am at the bottom of a well with no help in sight, I have hope.
And it’s that hope that gets me out of bed each morning to drink my coffee.
Image courtesy of George Hodan on PublicDomainPictures.net