on grieving

I’m looking at a picture of the man I once knew, shared on facebook. And the tears come.

Some fifteen years ago there were no tears. Not because I didn’t love him, but because I didn’t know how to grieve. I was 18 years old and he was gone so quickly. I had spent some time with him over Christmas, I knew he was going to be gone soon. I had peace knowing that he knew I loved him. I went to the funeral and then took off to Jasper.

This fall I was diagnosed with an auto immune disorder called Sarcoidosis. If you are going to pick an auto immune disorder, this would be the one. It’s generally mild and often goes away on it’s own in a couple of years. But the whole thing has caused me to pause and ask, why is my body attacking itself? After all, that is what auto immunity is. Particularly, my lungs. The medical system has very little they can do, we just take x-rays and blood work to keep an eye on it. But that doesn’t help with the tightness in my chest, the mind numbing fatigue or the tendency to have painful swelling in my ankles that leaves me feeling rather helpless.

I considered just riding it out. After all, it should clear up on it’s own. But in the mean time I need to be able to think clearly and take care of my family. The fatigue is unlike anything I have ever experienced. And then there’s the question of

“even if it goes away, if I don’t deal with what’s causing it, won’t it still effect me in another way?”
sarcoidosis is sometimes accompanied by cancer

And so I have begun the process of healing. I’m not going to wait around just hoping to get better. I believe that there are reasons for what I am dealing with. Physical, emotional, mental and spiritual reasons and I am digging into all of them. I am thankful for sarcoidosis because it’s the little wake up call I needed to stop and take care of the things I’ve been saying I “should take care of”, for years.

So what does this all have to do with Grandpa? Well, when I began looking into why my body might be acting out the way it has, one of my hippy books made mention that grief can be linked to issues in the lungs. According to Karol K. Truman these feelings can all be associated with the lungs:

Feelings of grief
Not feeling approval
Hurts where love is concerned
Feels life is monotonous
Not being able to do things your way
If you know me personally or you know my story you may be chuckling right now. When I read this the first time every one of those statements made sense, except for the first one. I Couldn’t think of any loss that I hadn’t grieved. When I thought of my Grandfather, I had peace around his passing. But today as I looked at that face in the picture, I could feel his hand holding mine. I could hear his voice and I missed him deeply. I think this is the first time I’ve allowed myself to miss him. 
At the time of his passing, life was complicated. Even though I had grown up only a few minutes from his house, I really didn’t see him much. My parents had divorced when I was young and I wasn’t close to his family. At 18 years old I had no idea how to handle my father’s grief over losing his own dad. I had no idea how to be in a room filled with people who loved each other but I felt I hardly knew, as they wept.
But today, over a decade later I am taking the time to remember him.  I know that I will see him again and when I do he will give me one of his awful “whisker rubs” that says “I love you”, and I’ll tell him I love you too, Grandpa.