Death is sort of a lifelong pursuit, just not one most participate in willingly. We spend our lives avoiding it, anticipating it, planning for it, learning how to postpone it, learning ways to accept it, talking about it, *not* talking about it, and finding ways to cheat it.
When all of that is sped up and reduced to 126 days with someone you deeply love, it changes you. I told a friend shortly after Dad moved to heaven that it felt like the molecules of my actual being had been rearranged.
Going through the actual process of dying with someone you deeply love *changes you*.
When Dad was diagnosed with six brain tumors, my focus went straight to him and Mom and my brother and sister; for that is where the circle of our entire extended family began, and so it shall be that the first one of us to leave will leave from that still-tightly-intact and bonded circle. And then we close it in tighter to seal the gap.
I sometimes sing that old hymn from my childhood in my mind,
"Will the circle be unbroken?
By and by, Lord, by and by,"
and I think, "No, never," because our faith promises we will all be reunited, one by one, in eternity to finish out what God started with us here on earth.
The grief process, they say, is long and slow and can take years to get through. But I say it lasts an entire lifetime - grief is just the last leg of the tour.
I now see that the process begins when you are born and you spend your life building and nurturing relationships with those whom God plopped you among - whether by birth, adoption, or just life circumstances. Bloodlines dictate looks and health history and that's about it. Love dictates family.
The bonds you build, like roots, take hold early and grow deep from there.
There is no grief without deep love, and there is no deep love without bonds, and there are no bonds without relationships.
So deep grief from the loss of someone begins the moment those relationship roots start to grow. There is no avoiding grief without avoiding love in the first place. And having no deep love in your life would be far more painful than experiencing no grief would be painless.
So give me the grief.