Grief is Exhausting

We were stopped at a red light and almost at school when it hit her. It had been building up the past several weeks. The inability to breathe well, the feeling of a lack of control, the overwhelming grief bubbling up and spilling over the edges. Usually, she can hide it and no one knows unless she tells them. “Mommy, I just want to go home. I can’t go to school.” A cry for help. And a cry that breaks my heart again.

On birthdays we post happy pictures. We post pictures showing the celebration of life. The joy that comes in the form of the birthday. For the grieving, this may or may not happen. Birthdays are often filled with heartbreak, suffering, and deep longing for the person they are missing. The weeks leading up to the birthday and the weeks leading away from the birthday may be filled with anxiety attacks, depression, anger, sadness, and so much more. Every “special” day that passes the griever reminds them that their person is no longer here to celebrate with them.

The past few weeks have been no different for my oldest. Today, she is 16 years old. Today should be a day filled with happiness and excitement. We should have been planning a huge and special party for her for weeks now. Instead, there are no plans. She does not even want a birthday cake. I am trying to make this day as special as I can for her to show her our love. But she is suffering. Deeply. Yesterday, we were on our way to her homeschool coop where she spends the day in classes. On the way there she suffered a panic attack. She began to cry as she tried to hold the tears in. She was physically unable to attend classes and it took all of her will power not to break down. I sent this picture to my husband and said, “I don’t know what to do. Do I make her power through? Do I tell her she does not have to attend classes today?” We spoke on the phone and he said to bring her home. See, we have to take this one moment at a time as parents. We make the best decisions we know how to make but we too are new to this. We too don’t fully understand how to handle these moments. The moments just go on, and on, and on and we are all exhausted.

I told my husband yesterday that one of the most difficult things for me as a mom is watching my living children suffer. I compared it to holding Maggie while she died. It ripped my heart out and I will never be the same again. On the same hand, I had to be there. I never would have left her side in those moments. I was helpless. She had to walk this path. I could change nothing for her. And I feel the same now watching my children suffer. No matter how much it hurts to see them on this path it is their path. There is nothing I can to do stop it. I am helpless. I can change nothing for them. They must walk this and we must continue to figure out how to bear it together.

Oh, my Jesus. Give us the grace and strength to push forward through these dark days. Jesus, we trust in You.

Happy birthday, my beautiful girl. You are so loved. We will get through this together.

NOTE: Shared with my daughter’s permission.

Every Rose suffers a rainstorm. They lose a few leaves and when the rain stops they look back and see just how much they can withstand.

Elizabeth Rose Ramirez

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