Grace wasn’t a word that I thought about much prior to James’s diagnosis and life. After he died, when I started writing about my grief, several people told me to “give myself grace.”
I’ve thought about that statement for a while, and I’ve come to realize that it applies not only to my path in grieving but to everything in life.
We always think that everyone else has it figured out. We lament our mistakes, castigate ourselves for the failures, look for what we could have done differently or better. We don’t forgive ourselves. We lay blame – on ourselves and on others.
Grace – “do honor or credit to (someone or something) by one’s presence.”
Give yourself grace. Give those around you grace. None of us know how to traverse life. We learn as we age. We learn and we do better, but we always fall short of what we expect from ourselves, and those we love always fall short of our expectations. In the end, I truly believe that most of us our decent and trying to do our best.
Recently, I was unhappy with someone that I dearly love. I felt disappointed, unsupported. I felt like she didn’t grasp the depth of my loss and of what I needed most in the world. I sat down to write to this person, and I decided to just write without direction and to let the thoughts just flow onto the paper.
What came out was not what I sat down to write. What came out was my gratitude for all that she did during James’s life and after his death. What came out was an explanation of my needs – in the simplest way that I could put it. What came out was that I understood her other concerns in life and that they were valid worries.
James’s physical life may have ended, but every day, he teaches me. I still fail – sometimes it feels like at everything. Yet, I give myself grace. The path of grief is exquisitely painful. It is sometimes terrifying and isolating. But something else that this path is? It is illuminating. In the last 8 months, I have learned that I can survive the worst thing that I can imagine – the death of my beloved child. If I can survive that – and KNOW that I am going to make it through this – then I can do anything.
We all stumble. We all fall. We all have dark days, make mistakes. The grace of others and the grace that we can give ourselves will pick us up again.
Grace. Every day. For everyone.