“You know you don’t have to cry. Look on the positive side.” I don’t remember my husband, Michael’s exact words those many months ago, but they were along those lines.

I was sitting on the bed and glanced over at our wedding photos framed over our bookshelf. Before that day, I prided myself on saving my tears for when the horrific pain would zing through my body. I generally didn’t cry mournful tears over a life altered by chronic illness. But at that point, I had just read  Beyond Boundaries and realized I hadn’t properly grieved over a changed life. I simply stuffed all emotions and painful memories into a compartmentalized place in my brain and decided to “move on.”

Except, I wasn’t really moving on. I was hurting, yet I wasn’t allowing myself the opportunity to feel hurt. 

Michael simply didn’t understand my ghastly cries in that moment. He was frustrated that I couldn’t be so easily fixed.

“Sarah, you have to realize things weren’t as bad as they were.” Yes, he was right, things weren’t as bad as they were before, but we had also expected everything to be nicely “fixed” by this point.

“But I don’t have that.” My shaky index finger pointed to the framed pictures of a wedding cake and mouths agape with laughter. I realized for so long I had justified why I shouldn’t mourn.

I simply couldn’t mourn because…

People had lives that they led that were far worse than mine.

I would want to look back at this time and know that I was strong.

If I mourned, would that mean this period of time wasn’t temporary?
Michael kept persisting in his attempts to console me, but I eventually told him, “I just need to grieve. I really haven’t processed through some of these emotions. I just need this time to cry, not simply because I’m in pain, but because I need to grieve.” 

Michael has been a wonderful support to me throughout this journey, so this is in no way diminishing his care. I think we can all desire to fix things rather than allow ourselves and others the space and time to grieve. He was doing to me exactly what I had been doing for myself for months- trying to find a reason to cease the grief. I can honestly say that since that January afternoon, my hurt hasn’t been as acute. 

I read a wonderful book recently on the very topic of grieving your chronic illness, which sparked this flashback memory from earlier this year. Esther Smith’s When Chronic Pain & Illness Take Everything Away: How to Mourn Our Losses did a wonderful job focusing on the necessary aspect of grieving the old, healthier you. If you have a health condition or have a desire to understand someone who is enduring health issues, this is a wonderful healing resource. 

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