I was talking with a sweet soul during a Spiritual Direction call and I heard myself offer the words, “grief compounds”. It felt almost like a sucker punch to my own gut because I know it to be true, especially this time of year.
My Dad passed away 6 years ago tomorrow and often my soul knows it before it registers in my mind. A twinge of sadness lingers as December 11th approaches and I find myself near tears easily. It’s like the muscle memory of loss kicks in every year right around this time.
And then I notice the date, and the grief swells as I recognize it’s’ significance.
Memories of those weeks leading up to December 11th six years ago surface, the achingly bitter mixed with the incomprehensibly sweet.
As I remember, that swell of grief builds. Grief triggers grief. It compounds as the memories and the longing partner in this familiar early December dance.
Yes, grief compounds when we make space to feel it and to process through it.
I guess I could tamp it down, ignore it, snuff it out, or maybe bury it under a hundred other things that could hold my attention, but that would mean not remembering. To me, that’s almost worse, so I let myself experience it all.
I have such incredible memories with my Dad, but the last year of his life as he fought for health hold quite a few of the memories that I cherish most. Those times were filled with long, slow conversations, laughter, tears, countless hours spent by his side, and the strengthening of a bond I will always treasure.
That’s the grace, the good in the midst of the grief, and it compounds as well.
I can’t help but smile even as the tears slide down my cheeks because remembering surfaces so many good moments.
Some of the memories are so vivid that I can almost hear the sound of Gunsmoke playing on the tv in the background as I sat across from him in his big recliner and saw his mischievous smile peeking out from under the hood of his sweatshirt, or smell the antiseptic aroma of the hospital room and feel the crick in my neck from that uncomfortable hospital chair as we sat together each night and talked and laughed for hours between game shows during all those long weeks of rehab.
More and more memories come and the tears slow as my smile spreads. Grace triggers grace. It compounds as I remember the good, and there is so much good to remember.
I sit in the loss, but feel the love.
I am hit by the ache but am comforted by the memories.
I feel the joy but also hold the weight of the sadness.
I miss him, but I’m grateful for every moment we shared together.
Still, there will always be grief, but there will also always be abundant grace. And although the grief compounds when we create space to feel it and process through it, so does the grace.
And because I know and trust the Author Of Grace, I believe it compounds more because I believe in the power of love to overcome pain.