Hard Part of Letting Go

This week I attended a memorial service for my friend, Sonya. She was a 52-year-old teacher, and she died of breast cancer. Of course, this brings up memories of my sister who died last June at 55 years old, also from breast cancer. Both were way too young.

This brings up grieving and the hard part of letting go. The hard part is not the intense emotions. You feel sad and happy at the same time. You cry at weird moments. You feel sad that they are gone; sad that you will miss them. Happy that they are no longer sick. Happy they are in a place as wonderful as heaven. The mixed emotions are hard, but not the hardest part.

What’s hard for me is to come to a place where I am grateful for the time I had with them. My heart doesn’t understand this, and I hear a long existential cry from my heart.

NOOOOOOOOooooooooooooo!

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I don’t want them to go. I don’t want to lose our connection that is so precious to me. The hard part is getting to the place where I am thankful that I had a sister for 55 years. And grateful that I had Sonya’s friendship for 30.

Sonya was not the kind of friend I would see every week or even every month. We would see each other a few times a year, but our conversations were passionate and energized. We would pray for each other. God would speak to me through her. Or God would speak to her through me. It was a rich relationship that I treasured.

I am at the hard part right now—of not complaining, but being grateful. I’ve been reading about grief. My thoughts and feelings spill out in my journal at quiet times of reflection. I appreciate H. Norman Wright’s book called Experiencing Grief. Two things he wrote has helped me:

Grief is “described as intense emotional suffering or even acute sorrow. In grief the bottom falls out of your world; the solid footing you had yesterday is gone.” H. Norman Wright in Experiencing Grief

Grief hits you whenever there is a death around you of a person who means something to you. It’s like being hit by a truck. Your reality shifts.

Mourning is different. I’ve been fighting this part, resisting entering into the pain.

Mourning is “this process where grief is expressed. . . . Everyone has grief, but mourning is a choice.” H. Norman Wright in Experiencing Grief

I’m struggling with mourning. Somehow expressing grief comes out in small measures like a crack in a vase with a slow leak. Maybe this is God’s kindness to me. Maybe this is my denial or my own reluctance. I don’t know.

I’m fighting whether I want to enter the pain and sort through the emotions. And whether I want to reach the hard place of gratitude. Where I’m grateful for the time I had with them. A part of me resists the idea that they are gone. I protest or complain. I don’t want to be grateful. I’m sad.

The hard part of letting go.

But I know by my experience of many losses, once I get to the point of gratefulness for the time I had with them, the pain lessens. I focus less on my loss, and more on what I gained. I’m not complaining, I’m appreciating.

I find myself at the hard place. If you are in the process of mourning, I encourage you to remember the things you are grateful for. It’s like a soothing balm on your hurting heart.

©2018 Belinda McDanel


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