Today I needed an outing. We cleaned house and packed a lunch and headed to a city park located on Puget Sound. I had felt strongly that it's time to get past the feeling that something is wrong when we go out as a family. The plan is to take day trips on Saturdays. Everyone must participate and we have to spend some time outside.
As we were driving we got to talking about the apartment where we lived when I had my first child, the job I had during that pregnancy and the library we walked to in my first three years of motherhood. Before I knew it we were talking about Matt and where he worked. We took a side trip and visited the airport where they park the planes before final delivery and they had two of the completed aircraft parked near the parking lot.
I was amazed at how interested the boys were in this airplane. I told them everything I could remember about it and pointed out the specific parts their dad helped design. I told them about the day I went to clean out his desk and how his manager said by helping design this military aircraft he literally helped make the world a better place. Their eyes lit up at that and I realized that something special was happening. Somehow in the telling of those memories and those facts they felt connected to their father.
When you lose someone close to you there are times when those memories are very painful and there are times when those memories promote healing. I remember laughing through tears during the funeral at the stories my brother-in-law told. As I have worked to understand what's happening in my heart and mind I realized that somewhere in my grief journey I let go of enough of the pain that the memories don't hurt so much and that happened by choosing to process the painful parts until only the good remained...or at least the pain was tolerable.
This process happened as I found safe places to talk through my grief; as I learned who the people were that would listen without judgement and without trying to fix my grief (it's not something you fix, it's a journey you undertake). Today I felt blessed, even if for only a short time, to be that place for my children.
Many shy away from the subject but that doesn't help either (I know, I’ve tried). Even the avoidance of the painful subject can cause pain as you exclude the mourners and that is painful. Invite but don't pry, support but don't linger unless needed, and be patient as the individuals are embarking on a difficult journey. Create safety when you can and know they have little to give some days but they still need to be loved.