Recovery During a Season of Grief

Recovery is hard. I’m not going to sugar coat it as anything other than hard work and tenacity. There are seasons of rest and joy and celebration when the work pays off, but there’s also a need to be honest with myself about the pain that has driven me to do the things I do and make the choices I make and a willingness to work through the pain I’ve spent decades avoiding because the only real way out is through. But those times I get that victory, and those hurts get healed…it makes every step of the journey worth it.

And then, I suddenly find myself an orphan. And the one person who had been there from my first memory isn’t there anymore. Suddenly, recovery becomes like trying to drag a 50-lb. boulder tied around my waist up a steep mountain on a path I can barely see anymore. It takes concerted effort just to put one foot in front of another. It takes a lot of setting aside time just to sob uncontrollably in a safe environment so I don’t lose it in a public place. It takes relapsing and running back to food to find some comfort when there’s none to be had. And then it’s shame because I feel like I failed, and I’m right back to step one…again and again and again. Recovery is hard. Recovery in the midst of grief is a battle. I lost a few skirmishes along the way. But I kept fighting. I’ve been bloody and bone-weary and felt like giving up. But I kept fighting. I’m still so very sad, and I miss my mom so much sometimes it is a palpable pain. But I keep fighting. I keep taking one step at a time, even if it is just an inch, because I know the fight is worth it. I know there is still hope and healing in honesty. I keep trusting the process. And I put my hand into the hand of the only Parent I have left because I KNOW He cares for me, and He will never leave me. And the journey continues.

Recovery is hard. Grief is hard. But I do not walk through either one alone. I have a team. I have encouragers. I have those who just sit with me and let me cry. I have people who pray. I have a coach who tells me the truth even when I don’t want to hear it and never gets upset when I say I’m not ready to talk about something. I have mentors who have walked the path before me. I have those who reach out when they haven’t heard from me in awhile because they know my tendency to isolate and shut down when I’m hurting. And I have a few friends that stick closer than sisters. I am not alone. Because I know I’m not alone, I know I can keep fighting. I can do the hard, “one day at a time, one moment at a time”.


Firsts. There are happy firsts and difficult firsts. My son’s first smile, the first time my husband told me he loved me, the first time I realized I was no longer depressed; those were all great firsts that brought an immensity of joy. The first time my son had a seizure, the first time I was rejected by someone I loved dearly, the first time I realized I was repeating unhealthy parenting patterns; those are incredibly painful memories. Those firsts, the ones I wish had never occurred, those are embedded. The pain associated with them makes their memory rise to the surface so much easier than the happy ones, as if they are permanently tattooed on my brain so I can NEVER forget, no matter how much I might want to.

Grief is a little different. I remember that first Christmas, just three weeks after Daddy died. It was hard, but there’s a film over it, like I’m looking at the memory through a clouded window. I was still numb. I feel the same way about the dinner we had for Mom’s birthday just one month after she’d gone. I remember it, but it’s hazy. And maybe that’s a blessing of grief. It causes the one experiencing the loss to be numb enough to not feel the full weight of all those firsts. They are hard enough.

This is my first Mother’s Day without my mom. In looking through some pictures to share with a family member, I found a Mother’s Day card from Mom and realized I would never receive another one. I would never again receive a card from her telling me all the things she found it hard to verbalize. So, there are also lasts. But we don’t recognize the importance of those until after they have passed and those firsts bring them to our awareness.

I am thinking anew of what it means to live each moment as if it were my last.