My husband is dead. I must go on in life without him.
I have accepted my reality.
Until…. I haven’t again.
The phases of grief are not neat and orderly, but messy and sometimes a never ending flux. And I’m beginning to think that the step of acceptance is anything but a singular, one time step.
If only acceptance brought a closure to the pain of this horrid chapter. If only acceptance was like wearing a jacket that when you felt the sun, with summer’s warmth of hope and saw you no longer needed it, you could strip it off and hang it in the closet.
Ready to go on.
But grief instead is like an early spring day where all four seasons seem to cohabitate the same day and the weather can’t make up its mind, leaving you chilly one minute and swiping sweat off your brow the next.
Acceptance is being able to shed that coat. Realizing you don’t need to carry its weight. Realizing it is stifling in the summer heat. But then your grief doesn’t stay warm, does it. It turns cold with no warning. The jacket is pulled back on and you have to go through the process again of waiting for the sun to come out to feel okay with shedding the enclosure once again.
Acceptance is a process that happens over and over and over again.
Why? Because unacceptance happens over and over again. Because the natural resistance to the unwanted change happens over and over again. Because stinking triggers remind you that you are sad for what you lost, over and over again.
Don’t be discouraged because you feel the final step of grief, acceptance, seems to be out of reach. Because acceptance isn’t like a jacket that you can hang neatly in a closet because the season is done forever. Seasons change.
Maybe part of the acceptance is accepting the fact that no two days will be alike.
Acceptance is acceptance of the pain. Acceptance of the anger. Acceptance of the missing. And acceptance of the sparks of hope and times of peace. Sometimes even accepting the possibilities of this unwanted life.
Acceptance is no longer avoiding the pain or distracting yourself from it. You accept it as part of you. Accept that it’ll change you. Accept that it will have moments of bubbling up inside of you. The experience has seeped roots into every part of your being bringing a new depth of character and strength and compassion.
Maybe acceptance is knowing there will just be days that you’ll be burning up with that jacket on, and the insane drive to want to peel it off you isn’t so powerful anymore. It just is what it is. It’s part of you and that’s okay.
Acceptance doesn’t mean you no longer struggle. I think it means the burden of grief, that jacket, little by little, isn’t your identity anymore. The burden isn’t something you clutch across your chest and hold tight. Acceptance is being willing to pull a different jacket on for a while or no jacket at all, because it isn’t all consuming. Acceptance is the surrender to the ebb and flow and letting it wash you. Cleanse you. And strengthen you.