The “Grinch Called Grief” came knocking on my door a little over a month ago. He showed up on the night of November 13th when my sister-in-law called to tell me that my dad probably had a stroke and would be kept in the hospital overnight. Through the wee hours of the night, I rehearsed myself for what I would do if the Grinch actually showed his face this time.
Just to give you a brief history, my father had dealt with heart disease for quite some time. This one time, he even coded on the table for more than 30 minutes and came back with no brain damage. God’s grace. Another time, he spent nearly 3 months in Vanderbilt hospital. Another time, I drove him to the hospital when he was having chest pains in the middle of the night. That night, I, too, was convinced I was having a heart attack! You can laugh now. There were many more times too, and every time, I was there to hold his hand and tell him it was gonna be okay, or I was there to whisper in his ear in my 10-year-old voice, “Wake up because I need you here.”
But this time, the next morning, miles away, I awoke, got dressed, and went to work with high hopes of fair news. Then, the dreaded phone call came. It was the phone call that was greeted by unshaken thoughts and floodgates of tears. My sweet daddy was headed to meet his maker.
Let me just tell you, there’s no rule book on how to react. Literally, nothing can prepare you. I was not prepared.
Charles Swindoll once said, “I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you… we are in charge of our Attitudes.” He also said, “Anything under God’s control is never out of control.” Before I could get to Memphis to my sweet daddy’s side, I’d received a host of messages and calls from friends and family. Word spreads fast, and God knows what you need. I needed every sweet word of assurance.
I’ve learned a lot about myself in the past month since the Grinch arrived! My daddy and I were kindred spirits, so much alike! I find myself laughing at the things I say that he used to say. I find myself embracing the features I have that are of him. I find myself enjoying the values of my future husband that remind me of him: hard working, sweet, funny and joyful! He left so much joy here. I could go on for days about it!
It’s true, we all grieve differently, but I wanted to share that you can grieve joyfully too! My eldest brother asked me at my daddy’s hospital bedside, “Are you okay?” I said, “no.” He said, “Yes you are. We can’t be selfish. It was his time.” There was some solace in his words. We don’t have the power to decide quite a few things in this life, but we can decide how we react to them.
If the Grinch called Grief has shown up at your door, embrace it, but don’t let it overtake you. You may be experiencing a different kind of loss: a job, a friend, a loved one and many other worldly reasons to be grieved. When change happens in my life, I call it my new normal and try to adjust. You can’t force yourself to be somewhere you aren’t, but you can be the best you while you are there. Do the things you love to do. Find your light.
People tell me that you don’t get over the loss of a parent, and I’m fine with that. I don’t really want to get over it. I’ve made plans with myself since it happened to keep going! My daddy lost both of his parents around the time he was my age, and somehow he raised 6 beautiful children and gave us the best life! He found his light in us. He used to say, I was just like his mother. Oddly, enough, I’d never met her! I was his reminiscence and silver lining in his missing her.
As we go into the new year, we reflect on the many gains and losses. Somehow, we hold onto the negative. Yet, wish for light. I’ve seen social media post after post saying goodbye to 2016. “What a year it has been?” I’ve seen people openly grieving the losses of loved ones, jobs, situations and just dealing with life in general. I’ve seen people tell social media how they were cutting ties with others. Remember not to let the “Grinch Called Grief” win! Move forward while you can. Live a lot. Love a lot.
Here are 15 ways to help you win your wrestle with the Grinch Called Grief:
1. Talk to someone you love every day!
2. Leave at least 5 positive comments or words of encouragement on any social media channel.
3. Spend at least 20-30 minutes a day in peace and quiet.
4. Watch a funny movie!
5. Listen to a heartfelt song and learn the words!
6. Invest in an adult coloring book.
7. Go on a lunch date with a sweet friend.
8. Pray yourself through difficult moments that you simply can’t make sense of!
9. Laugh every day even if its fake!
10. Be kind to yourself. You’re doing the best you can!
11. Cry! And cry some more.
12. Document special moments of life through pictures and video.
13. Encourage somebody else to keep going!
14. Read a blog! You’d be suprised how much somebody else’s testimony can help you!
15. Find your rhythm in your own workout routine. If you’re a runner run! If you love Zumba, dance away! If you like 5 a.m. spin class, get going!
In loving memory of my sweet daddy, Emerson Hockett.