Day 4: On Nostalgia and Grieving Authentically

Rooted Final 500 x 500On Thursday morning, the kids miraculously sleep in till 7 AM. I wake up to Maia’s still-sleepy chattering from across the hotel room in her pack-n-play.

I breathe a sigh of gratitude for the almost-normal amount of sleep, quickly grab my computer, publish and share today’s 31 Days post, and begin getting ready for the day.

The kids watch Baby Einstein on the computer (yes, even my 4-year-old guy still loves it) while Stan and I pack up and load up the bellhop cart thingy with not one, but two complete loads. Traveling with young children is the equivalent of moving, basically. Yup.

We grab some breakfast in the lobby, finish loading the car, and drive approximately 3 minutes down the road to my parents’ home, where we “move in” yet again.

We invade their clean, quiet house with all our little kid wildness, and within 30 minutes or so we’ve decided a trip to the park is in order. Stat. After 3 straight days of being asked to be quiet, the kids are in need of a serious energy (and noise) dump.

We load up and drive a few blocks into the neighborhood where I grew up, past my parents’ old home which they just sold last year, and the nostalgia is overwhelming. I almost feel teary all over again. I stop too long at the stop sign in front of their house, just staring. Remembering. Aching a little.

Stan reminds me to keep driving.

Arriving at the park where my brothers and I grew up playing, we unbuckle the kids and turn them loose. My mom tracks Maia and I yell half-joking to Isaac, “Hey buddy, make those truck noises LOUDER! Even LOUDER, bud!” I need him to release his wild here in the outdoors.

We play and run and swing and explore a while. My dad shows up at the park as we’re getting ready to leave, asks if Stan wants to accompany him to run some errands related to transferring ownership of Grandma’s car. I tell him to go on — Stan and my dad have one of the cooler father-in-law/son-in-law relationships that I’ve ever seen, and I know Stan’s companionship will be comfort to my dad’s overwhelmed heart.

We send them on their way, come home and grab lunch, and half an hour later, my kiddos are snoozing soundly.

Stan and Dad are still out and about, and Mom has left for a hair appointment, so I sit and inhale the quiet in great gulps — alone for the first time in several days. I dig out my parents’ 30-something-year-old coffee pot and it gurgles loudly in the kitchen while I enjoy some moments to myself.

Looking around, my eyes rest on bouquet after bouquet of flowers given by loved ones. Gerber daisies and carnations and berries, snipped from the elaborate arrangement that adorned Grandma’s casket.

Gifts, all of them. Reminders that loss always comes with gifts of beauty, of Him, and if we stay fully awake, we’ll be open to receive — to draw Him more deeply into ourselves through the pain, to emit a fuller spectrum of His fragrance.

A sweet friend recently asked me, how do you grieve authentically?

I loved the question — how it resonated in my gut. And I think that, right there, is my answer. Stay awake. Lean into emotions as they come. Receive the gifts of joy and sorrow alike.

A heart that numbs out and self-protects might avoid experiencing the sharp pangs of grief, but it’ll also miss out on the gifts that come wrapped in the mourning.

Upon contemplation, I’m pretty sure this is the most important reason I’m thankful for the opportunity to be present with my family this week: it has given me pause to honor my Grandma’s memory. Her legacy. To embrace those who were also loved by her.

Pause to allow the weight of her absence from this place to begin to land on my heart. To find comfort in the presence of loved ones, to allow our presence (and our kids’ wild, affectionate cuteness) to bring comfort to them.

Pause to remember that stopping to laugh and enjoy one another does not hinder or betray the grief — rather, it compliments and completes it.

I don’t by any means claim to have attained to the fullness of authentic grieving — but in this season, for me, this is what it looks like.

Stop. Honor. Remember. Mourn. Weep. Laugh. Tell stories. Keep loving fierce and tender.

Stay awake. Live wide open to the gifts that come in this season.

In every season.

PS. I’m a little delayed in asking, but if you’d like to follow my 31-day journey and not miss a post, I invite you to subscribe to receive my words via email. Simply click here and enter your email address.

PPS. Tomorrow, I’ll be offering to you something I’ve never shared on my blog before: my music. Oh y’all, am I nervous. But it’s been on my heart for quite some time to share this piece of myself with you here. I’ll explain more tomorrow. Much love to you, my friends.

PPPS. Sharing this post with Lisha’s lovely community.

This entry was posted in 31 Days 2014, Attending to His Presence, Celebrations, Encountering God in the Messy, Grief and Loss, Learning Authenticity, misc. walking with Jesus, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to Day 4: On Nostalgia and Grieving Authentically

  1. Dana, this is so beautiful. I’ve been through this four times in losing my grandparents. I remember when the last one died, my beloved grandmother who I am named after and for whom I am the only granddaughter. I remember sitting in her home and thinking that this phase of my life was over. My grandparents are all gone and I’m one generation closer to the end of my own life. But the memories were comforting in that house and she would have enjoyed the laughter and the stories. Grief comes in waves and even now, 7 years later, it still takes me by surprise that they are all gone. Then I think about the reunion we will have over There and I can hardly wait!
    Holly Barrett recently posted…Day 4: Your ways may be knownMy Profile

    • danalynnb says:

      Oh Holly, losing grandparents is such a painful reality check, eh? I still ache for my grandma we lost back in 2008 too – and now I imagine my 2 grandmas having coffee together in Heaven. :) YES – that reunion one day will be amazing. Oh, my heart…. Much love to you, friend!

  2. Amy says:

    Dana-Well said. How much we miss if we muzzle our sorrow, rather than rise and fall with it like the ocean. My journey right now, while fruitful and amazing, is truly one of grief as well, and your words express what is in my heart <3

    • danalynnb says:

      Amy, so true, and I love how your word picture of muzzling grief versus rising and falling with it. I’m so sorry for your own current journey of grief, though, friend. Sitting here aching with you as I read your words here. May you know His nearness and the intimacy of His comfort in this season. Grace, grace to you.

  3. Maire says:

    Very nicely put. Mourning loss is so difficult even in the best of times. When it comes in waves it is almost unbearable. I lost several family members and a dear friend, then my husband, all in a short period of time. It is so easy to shut down and to hide away with your grief. It is so easy to bundle yourself up and try to keep the pain at bay. God Bless you and your family, keep up the good work, this is going to touch many hearts.
    Maire recently posted…Day 4~ Softball: Not a Sport For SissysMy Profile

    • danalynnb says:

      Maire, I’m so happy to have you here, and oh goodness, the grief you have walked through — just thank you for sharing a piece of your story here with me. I am blessed and honored, and holding you in my heart before the Lord in this moment. I so appreciate your encouragement today.

  4. ~Karrilee~ says:

    I love you so! So glad you are doing this series, friend! (Can’t wait for tomorrow!)
    ~Karrilee~ recently posted…DAY TWELVE – Counting OnMy Profile

  5. Jolene says:

    This reminds me of Ann Voskamp’s description of Eucharisto. Unwrapping the gifts that God gives us- the happy and the sad- every day every moment is a gift. Thank you for sharing your heart. I am looking forward to hearing your music tomorrow.
    Jolene recently posted…Day 4 of 31 days of resting in scriptural promises Matthew 11:29My Profile

  6. Wow. Don’t you love that we can be rooted deep and strong even when our earthly roots seem to be completely askew with grief and sadness …

    Praying for you, Dana. I have been there. Over and over again.
    Linda@Creekside recently posted…Wildflowers * autumn nesting delightsMy Profile

  7. Dawn says:

    Dear Dana,

    I am sorry for your loss. I read your words and sighed with you, knowing and feeling the weight of the grieving. It is hard to lose a heart who has touched our own, but those moments that sweep in, like a tide ebbing and flowing, are meant to heal. They are meant to seal in the promises of stolen memories and gentle kisses that play on our yesterdays and prepare us for tomorrow. Praying you will find His dear comfort and strong embrace surrounding you in the days and months ahead. It was a blessing to meet you here today.
    In Him,
    Dawn recently posted…Changed by His PursuitMy Profile

  8. Pat Baer says:

    Well this is certainly a fresh and timely word for me, Dana. My mother died last week. Every day since has presented an avalanche of emotions and experiences for me to sift through. And like you – I don’t want to miss one gift left for me during the process. Thanks for sharing your story. You brought smiles to my day.
    Pat Baer recently posted…Death And Living ResponsiblyMy Profile

  9. Joanne Viola says:

    Dana, beautifully written. It is amazing how in mourning, He brings comfort through remembering & laughter & joys in being together. Perhaps it is just a faint reminder of what is to come when we are once again together, never to be separated again. And you are so right –> it doesn’t betray the mourning, it compliments it. May our God continue to comfort you in the days ahead. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again — so grateful our God crossed our paths as your words so bless me!
    Joanne Viola recently posted…Day 5: Help My UnbeliefMy Profile

  10. Mary Geisen says:

    Your words capture grief beautifully! Yes, you should jump on the roller coaster and hang on for the ride which is full of ups and downs, and many twist and turns. Stay awake and let life come at you and grasp each and every moment. Trust me there are times that one small memory takes over and almost knocks you to your knees, but let it! I lost my mom in January and still have roller coaster moments, waves of grief when I least expect but snippets of happy laced between. Praying for you Dana and your family!
    Mary Geisen recently posted…Sunday Morning Always Comes-RestMy Profile

  11. How I love this description of grieving authentically.
    Jamie S. Harper recently posted…Image Reflections: Pinnable bible verseMy Profile

  12. this. stay awake. Keep loving fierce and tender. I’m grieving the transformation of a relationship and these words put a little sugar in my bowl. I think yours is the perfect answer for grieving authentically. Leaning in, eyes wide open and feeling all the feels with you Dana.

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