Until You Are Gray.

This is a special guest post by my high-school classmate, Denielle, a mom of three. About two years ago, she lost her husband to suicide. A few weeks ago, her husband’s brother also took his own life.

Denielle is not a blogger or an author; she’s a beautiful person with some vital things to say about life. The following is a note she shared last week with grieving friends and family on Facebook. In some small way, I wanted to bring what she said to a larger audience, and she agreed that I could publish her words here.

Grief.

The bending of this life after someone loved is plucked from it. The aching of a vulnerable heart, which is in disagreement with what has befallen it.

I decided to care about my brother, and now he has vanished, and his body left to fade in the ground. Adjusting to a reality that has been changed by someone’s actions: it is difficult to bear, but not impossible. I am humbled before the fact that I can be affected so deeply by another, and that I am not the only one who influences life around me. I’m empowered by the fact that it is only me who chooses how I react and what I do now. Another’s behavior, chosen in whatever fog of blindness, is something I must not own.

I will not ask the departed why; I have tried that. You can shout as loud as you want, and there will be no return. But I glean insight from what has been. And I tell the living that I would prefer that they all stay, stay and live, take care, until you are gray. And love them. And if they don’t feel the love, ask them how they might.

Learn together, and share together. Be together, growing in a deepening understanding. Love and understanding are one and the same.

Right now life’s not lookin fair. But don’t let the man get you down. Negativity is not welcome in my home, even more now. Nonjudgmental honesty is observed and planted around us like a garden of vegetables.

What brings relief?

For me, sitting close, remembering that life is always changing. Singing and music, movement, walking, talking, choosing times to be alone. Knowing I don’t have to know it all, and letting go. Hugs and kisses. Asking for what I need, without pushing it. Letting you be you, and me be me. Letting go a lot, especially to fears that keep me from loving and moving forward. Acceptance, and keeping pace, like playing drums with the moment. Staying present, and when I wander kindly return to it. Forgiveness.

I didn’t even know how to properly spell the word “grief” two years ago, or what it meant. Now it is only too familiar.

My daughter said, “So Daddy died and then Owen. Who will die next?”

Sorry, I know that’s really sad, but it is part of her reality. And I wonder how she will grow though it. It is part of our shared reality. And the sharing is the part that helps us though it, I believe. Like we can do it together. Well, I told her “Hopefully no one, not for a long time, not till we are all very old.”

But I wonder the same thing she does, and dread. I live with it, and cope though it.

I breathe. Breath is completely reliable, maybe the thing I rely most on right now. When I breathe, it keeps the blood flowing to my brain and all my parts; breath centers me. I believe God is in that breath, and then in me, and you are all breathing, so you have it too.

Process. This is how I will sum it up right now. This is a changing process, life here. What is your process?

There is growth to be had in the ashes; compost turns to rich nutrient soil. I say this because it is what I have experienced. Shit is some of the richest fertilizer to use, if you learn how to turn it and mix it in with the ground. I think I have had enough for now, ok life.

I love you, take care.

I’m especially grateful to Denielle for sharing this, because a few days after I asked her if she’d be willing to let us read it here, my mother-in-law passed away unexpectedly. She was a lovely woman, and you can read about her here. So this goes out to her and the people who are grieving for her, and anyone else who’s lost a loved one. Special thanks to Denielle for these words.

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9 Comments

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  1. These moving words embody incredible strength & wisdom to live life fully “Until You are Gray” no matter what you must endure. An acquaintance of mine first lost her young baby son, then her husband died, and several years after that, her teenage daughter. I’ve often wondered how she could go on after so much tragedy. I’m sure Denielle’s words would have been comforting to her as they will be to anyone who reads them now.

    • Yes, when I saw this on FB it struck a chord even though I didn’t know the grief that was right around the corner for me. I feel like I know a lot of people who might be comforted by this right now.

  2. Phew. Thanks, Denielle. I imagine that there aren’t words to describe what you’ve been through and are going through, and I appreciate the grace that you’ve given us a glimpse of by sharing your process and your strength.

  3. Wow. There are no words. And that “like” is actually LOVE, for Denielle, her family, and you and your family.

  4. You were so blessed to have someone like her in your life.

  5. This was posted by a friend of mine on Facebook. This is such a great thing for anyone who has experienced grief, but especially those touched by suicide. Thank you for sharing such a personal story

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