What Died? (more about suffering, more about acceptance)

“There’s nothing more depressing than having it all and still feeling sad.” Unknown  (Image from iStock)

“There’s nothing more depressing than having it all and still feeling sad.” Unknown 
(Image from iStock)

I’ve spent nearly a decade grappling with Dad’s death and with the death of thoughts that I had control over my now 36-year marriage. Both losses left me feeling lifeless.

When friends said grief takes time, I nodded. However, I knew this was more than being sad that Dad was gone. It was also more than letting go of the control I tried to have over my husband. Something else died and it scared me that I didn’t know what it was or how to revive it.

I prayed every single day for more than three fourths of those years.

I prayed for energy and motivation to write and exercise and live life as it came. I prayed to focus on myself instead of staring at what others had done to me. I prayed to know what died so I could begin accepting it was gone and move beyond days that were dark and heavy.

Prayer didn’t work (meaning it didn’t make the pain go away). 

Neither did gratitude lists that included seeing my first article published, celebrating our children’s wedding and engagement, and sharing a precious granddaughter with the world. The more good that happened, the darker and heavier I felt for not feeling grateful.

Neither did advice about my attitude, attempts to diminish my pain in the light of others’ more devastating pain, or my own self-contempt for not being able to shake depression.

And neither did attending church, reading positive passages, or talking to family and friends who looked sympathetic, but confused. Their expressions said, “Now, tell me one more time why you’re feeling sad and lost?”

I almost stopped trying to explain because I didn’t know myself what was happening. That was, until I tried one more time.

“Nothing’s motivated me like trying to get it right with you and Dad,” I said to my husband. “Sick as it sounds, struggling for your attention and Dad’s approval got me out of bed every morning.”

He heard me. 

I heard myself.

Since burying my dad and my marriage (as I knew it), I’ve been missing my sickness. I wrote in my last post that suffering serves a purpose, but suffering is a means to an end, not an end in itself.

Instead of learning and being changed by suffering, then moving on, I’ve tried to revive it by staggering too often into the past, flirting with fear and self-doubt, and throwing pity parties. Not that I’m saying this party girl is finished, but I’m over-the-top relieved to know what died – my suffering that masqueraded as purpose. When I’m ready, life is waiting.

And so is more suffering and I’m okay with that.

Are you smack dab in the middle of your sickness, your struggles, and your suffering? Are you feeling more dead than alive? I hope this post offers some answers, some optimism, or at least lets you know you’re not alone.

WRite wHere I’m supposed to be – It takes what it takes for each of us. I’m grateful to be at another crossroad where I have insight and hope and choices, and, yes, awareness that there will be more suffering.

On the side: In hindsight, some of the things I listed – prayer, gratitude, church, reading, and sharing with family and friends – did work (meaning they made my days feel gentler, they moved me forward, they grew me up), just not as quickly or as dramatically as I wanted.

Here’s additional reading about suffering from A Holy Experience, “The 1 Unlikely Secret to Hold Onto When You’re Sad.” 


12 responses »

  1. Good thoughts.

    My way of dealing with a situation that gets objectively harder with every passing week is to take things one moment, or one event at a time. “If I can do THIS I can go on.”

    There’s no easy way through, but the acceptance that “this is going to hurt”, applied to the day when I get up, somehow makes it easier, too.

    Hang in there!

  2. Oh, how I love your real-ness, Kim. How I respect your honesty.
    It’s healthy.
    It’s the kind of truth God desires: truth-in-the-inner-most-being.

    • I appreciate your comment, Beth. Writing honestly takes more courage than I thought. However, I’m giving it my best shot since I long for health and to follow God’s desires (like you said).

    • We’re in this together, Mary. 🙂

      Thanks for using the word “bravely.” I can’t wait to read more of your writing either. We might need another lunch date to make that happen for both of us.

  3. From Facebook –

    Donna Richardson, Helgi Vannell, Christy Young, Summer Turner, Mildred Gunter and 4 others like this.

    Beth Jarrott Awesome!
    August 4 at 3:21pm · Unlike · 1

    Jenine Marie In the wake of Mom’s passing, I’ve contemplated how I could never please her, no matter how much I tried. Enough was never enough. Yet, at the end of this rope is something amazing. I lose sight of even trying because no matter how hard I try, nothing will be enough, so I please myself. In the wake of it all the goodness of it is that I don’t have to do that with anyone else either. I don’t have to be anyone but myself with God, with my kids, with my friends, etc. etc. etc., because at the end of the day there is no one who is going to live this life for me. Only I get to be happy and free and make that choice OR I can continue to grow into someone else’s image of me. Too much to handle and way too much to juggle, because everyone has a different image for me . And, I am the only one who can choose to be sad when that is what I feel. It just is what it is!
    August 4 at 3:47pm · Edited · Unlike · 1

    Mary McKerihan Wilson Another wonderful post, Kim! I also left a comment on your blog. I struggle with some of the same issues you write about in the post and have noticed change in myself since my parents died. I doubt we would be in Myrtle Beach now had it not been for their deaths; my dad likely would have thought the decision risky and frivolous.
    Yesterday at 9:55am · Unlike · 1

    Kim Henson Thanks so much for your comment here and on my blog, Beth Jarrott. Did you go last night? I wish I lived closer, but I’ll make it back soon. Love ~
    Yesterday at 2:50pm · Like

    Kim Henson Jenine Marie, isn’t it amazing what we learn with age and experience? I’d love to go back 10 years with my parents as long as I had the awareness that I have today, but it doesn’t work that way. You’re right, it’s me and God. It’s comforting to simplify life in those terms. Thanks for sharing your heart.
    Yesterday at 2:53pm · Like · 1

    Kim Henson Mary McKerihan Wilson, having lunch and talking about our writing has helped so much as I take baby steps to share more honestly and deeply. Funny how one conversation can help turn things around. I’m sorry about your parents, but thrilled you’re in Myrtle Beach. I think a lot of people would call God’s ways risky and frivolous. In fact, I’ve done it myself, but then I try to go with them anyway.
    Yesterday at 3:00pm · Like · 1

    Beth Jarrott Yes, Kim Henson. I was at our WW meeting last night. We missed you. Several gals were on vacation. You know summer… Hope to see you next month!
    Yesterday at 4:48pm · Unlike · 1

    Kim Henson I hope so too, Beth Jarrott.
    Yesterday at 10:27pm · Like

    Christy Young Love this Kim Henson. This sparks loads of thoughts, they are all swirling in my head at the moment. Very relevant, very real, as you always are. Thank you for sharing part of yourself with others.
    12 hours ago · Unlike · 1

    Kim Henson Thanks, Christy Young. My head was swirling when I wrote it. I kept thinking, “You can’t post this,” but I better practice now because the book is this and more.I appreciate you and your comment.
    a few seconds ago – Like

    Summer Turner Deep and insightful.
    August 4 at 8:30pm · Unlike · 1

    S. Kim Henson Thanks for reading and commenting, Summer Turner.
    August 4 at 11:54pm · Like · 1

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