Salvaging the Soul – Joan Higgs

When the death of a loved one brings us to our knees, we have choices. We
can allow the loss to take over our lives, give in to it, and become immobilized or we can believe that God will help us recover. It is a fact that we never get over a loss, we can only get through it and so our journey through the grieving process begins. I am a Christian and I believe in the healing power of God. If you are not a Christian or if you are a member of a religion other than Christianity, perhaps you also believe in a higher power. If you do, then you will understand how that belief can aid in your recovery.

I respectfully disagree with those who use the word “closure” to describe the end result of a journey through grief. There is no end. It is never over. What we can hope for is that we
eventually integrate our loss into the core of our being and walk forward into the rest of our
lives. Closure is a word that implies the end, a door closing. The door to the loss of my granddaughter will never close but I have integrated her loss and it is now a part of who I am. It does not define me but it adds a layer to the essence of me.

I am not the same person I was on the morning of December 23, 2007. I am different and the differences are not all bad because I am now more aware of my surroundings, of the people I care about, and the world in which I live. There is a sadness to me that was not there before but will always permeate me. There is also a deeper joy that I would not have been able to understand on that day in that year.

By the end of July 2008, I felt a peace that was not part of me before and I knew that the worst was over. This does not mean that the tears never surface because, of course, they do, but the tsunami’s are over. This does not mean that the tears do not surprise me because they sometimes do. Just not as often and when they do I have learned to accept them as part of my healing.

One November day in 2011, I went to a local garden center, something I nearly always do the weekend following Thanksgiving in order to purchase ribbon and other Christmas decorations that I will need for the upcoming holiday. I parked my car, entered the
building, grabbed a cart and started down one of the aisles. The aromas of Christmas overwhelmed me for a moment and I heard the Christmas carols streaming through the
P.A. system. Suddenly, the tears started and I was overcome with grief. This was not happening! I gathered my strength and resolved to continue shopping.

There have been other times when I have been surprised by tears but this one stands out because of the holiday. I have learned to allow myself these moments, knowing they are imperative to my healing spirit. I give myself permission to cry when I need to and if
that is met with disapproval by others, I believe that this is their problem, not mine.

In spite of my best efforts, Christmas will always be overshadowed by the enormous loss of a precious baby girl. However, I have found a way to deal with this. I allow myself time to grieve prior to the 23rd of December and then I move on to the joy of sharing the holiday with my family and my friends. Fate will not rob me of my favorite holiday and
the joy of celebrating the birth of the Christ Child. It will not and it does not.

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