I’m just a few weeks away from marking 14 years since my son died following a vehicle crash in which he was a passenger. I am glad to say that I am back to living life and I feel certain that my Christopher would be proud. I still miss him dearly and often am blindsided by that grief. Lately, however, I have been dealing with a different grief.
A few years ago, a friend of mine lost her husband. He died unexpectedly though he had been struggling for some time. A few months later, she had a friend whose husband left and sought a divorce. She and I talked many times about how those losses were different. Specifically, we talked about the fact that she knew her husband didn’t want to die and leave her. Unlike her friend who felt rejected as her husband chose to leave her and move on with another woman. So, while my friend was devastated by the death of her husband, there were many times when she acknowledged have her friend had it worse.
So that brings me to my new grief. Let me be clear, there is no loss greater than what I experienced 14 years ago when my Christopher went to be with Jesus. I take great joy, knowing that I’ll see him again. Having said that, I had a falling out with a dear friend last year. I brought it on myself by a serious lapse in judgement that resulted in her understandably feeling betrayed; I violated her trust. Though it has been very painful to realize that she assumed the worst with regards to my intentions, I take full responsibility. Unfortunately, she has been unwilling or unable to forgive me and as a result, that has been the end of a very dear friendship.
So, I’ve been trying to come to terms with this loss for well over a year. I’ve noticed some big differences between grieving this loss and the loss of my son. While it took a long time for me to process the huge hole that Christopher’s death left in my world, with the loss of this friendship, I find myself imaging ways to reconcile, erroneously thinking that there is something I could do that would restore what I’ve lost. This kind of thinking is only possible because she is still alive, as compared to my Christopher. So, while I had a very hard time accepting the loss of my only child, I never looked for ways to restore what I had lost.
When a person dies, we have all sorts of rituals to help us be able to mark the loss. There are viewings, funerals, memorial services and often a gravesite where we can go to be reminded of the loss. With a friend, there is no ritual prompting us to move forward without the lost friend. So, I’ve been encouraged to find a ritual that will help me let go and move forward.
Now, when I see something reminds me of her, i choose not to dwell on the inability to share it with her. Instead, I pray for her. That way, I don’t dwell on what will never be and, instead, enlist the one who is always willing to forgive and has promised to never leave me.