Thursday, June 10, 2010
Looking for a new chair
After my Mom passed away, almost 22 years ago, confusion, doubt and guilt seemed to creep into many areas of my life. As I became more familiar with the affects of grief and its complicated yet necessary process, I began to learn those are just a few of the many components of a griever's journey. Simply put, I just couldn’t figure out what chair I should sit in now with out my Mom physically present in my life. The relationship between walking out my grief and looking for a new chair began.
With out even realizing it most people sit in the same chairs most of their life. When having a family dinner or family get together almost instinctively you choose the same chair. For example, my Dad always sat in the same spot at the dinner table and sat in the same recliner in the living room. The same is true at church. Most often people sit in the same pew as their family did or the one they chose the first time they attended. It appears to give us a sense of belonging and keeps us grounded in something that is constant and familiar when so much in life is not.
So when someone leaves the family or worst case scenario in a death, an empty chair is produced causing each family member to subconsciously ask themselves, “Where is my chair located now?” It’s a process that goes somewhat unnoticed but the affects of it are definitely happening. The first couple of family gatherings following my Mom’s death, I noticed how difficult it was for all of us to find our new spot. We all had to try some new chairs in an attempt to find the one that felt the most comfortable without her there. It is a subconscious process filled with emotional ups and downs. What makes it even more difficult is that it’s a different process for each person demanding mutual respect and deep love.
Fortunately my family has an abundance of both, completely surrounded by grace and mercy. We all found a new chair and a new comfortable spot among each other with out Mom and then years later again without Dad. I was aware that my new chair wasn’t the same, and that many things had changed but slowly I began to feel embraced by gratitude and comfort that only rest in a comfy chair can provide. By it I was transformed and the confusion, doubt and guilt I felt early on, made way to a new and hopeful journey.
I believe that grief flows from one experience into another. After Michael died it felt nearly impossible to find any chair that was comfortable, but I remembered the hope I experienced earlier in my life while grieving the death of my parents and the “finding a new chair” process began again. It kept me pressing forward confident that a new chair, built with new grace and mercy, would come. At one time or another all of us look for a new chair. Be it the loss of a loved one, or the loss of a job, or other types of loss we experience in life. Whatever your situation, be open to trying a few different kinds of chairs but remain hopeful, respectful and loving in the process.
I once read that we don’t overcome suffering by denying it, but by allowing it to transform us. Finding a new chair is almost always born out of some kind of suffering, but it has the potential to transform anyone to Be the Change. Only then can you find comfort in a new chair.