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Friday, May 31, 2013

Please Don't Go

So here I am, trying to deal with loss again. It's not as significant this time, as in, someone hasn't died so I still have the ability to connect. Yet in some ways it is more significant because these people are very close to me. I went through this a couple of years ago, and back then I don't think I felt as sad as I do this time. Perhaps it was because I was only processing one loss, instead of multiple losses. Or perhaps this time I have words to put to my emotions.

The one word that I realized with certainty I was feeling was "Grief." As I went about my day, seeing and remembering things that brought back a flood of good memories with the people who were no longer in my life, I realized I was grieving. I tried to understand why it was affecting me to such a strong extent, and while I cannot say exactly why, I think perhaps it ties back to the TCK (third-culture kid) experience.

TCKs grow up living in loss. They lose their culture, their country, their extended family, their immediate family, their favourite foods, their role models, their friends, their favourite places to go, their schools and their churches. A majority of their losses are set in the context of connection which defines their loss as emotional and social. It also means they must either learn to process those losses or live among them in a way that they can cope.

I'm not sure I learned to deal with loss appropriately. Every time I experienced a significant loss, I would go through a period of time when I was sure my world had ended. I felt like I had no anchors, I became angry with God for allowing me to be hurt, and then I learned to seal off my emotions and pretend I wasn't affected by it all.

This time around, though, I'm trying to figure out how to grieve the loss in a healthy way. They say the 5 stages of grief are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I have the first four down pretty well; it's the acceptance that I struggle the most with. Perhaps because I struggle to understand why loss is a part of life and why God allows us to love so deeply and then we have to figure out how to handle the pain that mirrors its depth.

I am learning that emotions may reflect pieces of God's character. My one goal in life is to seek to understand Who God is and when little glimpses come through this haze of a world of sin between us, I stop in awe and amazement. I think God places love and laughter and joy and happiness in our hearts; I don't think He has anything to do with pain and sorrow and grief and fear. I am still trying to figure out anger because there are several passages in the Bible that talk about His wrath.

"Finding acceptance may be just having more good days than bad ones." I'm still working through the stages and it may take me a while to reach the point of acceptance of reality. Right now I just want to hold on to memories, because those were good days and I didn't realize they were about to end so abruptly. I wasn't ready, but then again, a TCK is never ready to face loss. Even as it defines their existence, they must learn to shape their reality around connecting and rebuilding through the grief. It is not an easy task.

Tonight I will claim the promise that God has given in Psalm 16:6. "The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places, I have a goodly heritage." I will choose to believe that if I cannot see the places of peace here on this earth, that there is a place filled with goodness waiting for me in heaven. There are two reasons why I am determined to stay faithful. So I can see God and know that He is proud of me for never letting go of Him, and so that I can always be close to the ones who are so dear to me. That will be a day of no more loss, no more sorrow, no more grief. Only Joy.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Missing You

It's late, I'm tired, and I will have an early morning Sunday so I really shouldn't be writing. But it's been too long since I wrote, which is why I am writing! And I'm too lazy to get out my notebook and hunt out my favourite uniball pen which is the only one I like writing with when I journal. After all, when one is an English major, one has to insist on certain standards when it comes to crafting words on a page!

Got a chance to catch up with an old friend this evening which was really special. She popped up on Facebook, got my number, and gave me a call. When she said goodbye 40 minutes later, as she still had a load of laundry to do before sunset which happens to be 11 pm in Alaska, I hung up and returned to surfing Facebook, my favourite pastime to pass the time. One of the students from the program I work with had just posted some pictures from the last four months so I spent some time looking and commenting. And remembering.

Seems sanguines are rather emotional melancholy people as well, which is kind of strange. You'd think a sanguine choleric would just be a pushy happy person, but either we're masking or we can't sustain the high for so long because while we have our highs, we have our lows as well. Being emotional is part of the whole mix. I cry at the drop of a hat, literally, not because I want to but because it just happens.

So here I was, looking at pictures, chatting with old friends, and starting to feel melancholy. I am so grateful for the friends that God has gifted me with, but I am so sad that none of them seem to stick around for more than a few years, if I'm lucky. I'm blessed to be able to travel to visit them when I can, or to have them return for homecomings and things, but I miss having them in my life!

Perhaps I feel stronger about it because I am far from cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents. We grew up seeing them once every 2 years on average, though that average dropped drastically once we arrived in the US. Kind of ironic, really. So as we migrated as missionary nomads from country to continent, I learned to create family with the people around us. I had more aunts and uncles than anyone else back home, and to this day I still refer to them as Aunty or Uncle so-and-so.

Coming to the US I was once again blessed with so many international friends who easily fit into my heart. Yet as with my adopted family, their stay was not long. I learned at an early age to say goodbye without crying, as the tears slid down on the inside, but even today, at age 32 it is not easy to carry through. Perhaps, though, one day we will all be together again. Till then, I must learn how to keep loving without breaking.