It was a typical night with my family. We were cuddled up watching movies, snuggled tightly together under the covers. I don’t remember what we were watching, but what I do remember is the phone call that interrupted it all. My phone rang to display a number I didn’t recognize.
I answered. It started with my simple “hello”. On the other end came words that made me freeze. “Hello Chelsea, this is Pastor ___ calling from the hospice service. I’m calling as a routine check in with you and your family. It has been six months since your mother passed away.”
Those words took my breath away. This stranger had suddenly put a number on my mother’s death and the countable days of her absence. My world was forever changed when my mother died, but I wasn’t counting. In fact, I had been trying to pretend it was all a mistake, and this man just put a number to it. Numbers are powerful, especially when describing time. Time lived, and even harder, time gone.
I couldn’t respond. I had emotion and heartbreak seeping out of me. I wept and replied: “I’m sorry. I didn’t realize it had been six months.” You could hear the sympathy in his response as he told me, “It’s ok. Grief is unpredictable. It’s like riding a roller coaster in the fog. There are huge dips and curves and ups and downs and usually we never see them coming. We know they are there, but the fog makes it hard to see what’s in front of us.” And then I was speechless again, because he was so extremely accurate.
This stranger, this pastor, had just described what I’d been living in the most accurate and descriptive way. He gave my feelings and emotions a perfect visual representation. I hung up the phone as the emotion hit even harder. This unexpected phone call changed the way I saw grief. It changed the way I lived with loss.
From that moment on, I stopped running from grief. I realized, like it or not, it was now a part of our lives. From the words of a stranger I realized, grief was this unwanted seat on a roller coaster. A roller coaster in thick fog. It was the scariest ride I’d ever experienced. One that was unpredictable and full of fear and emotion.
Glennon Doyle said it perfectly, ““Grief is love’s souvenir. It’s our proof that we once loved. Grief is the receipt we wave in the air that says to the world: Look! Love was once mine. I love well. Here is my proof that I paid the price.”
So, I’ll take my seat on this roller coaster, because the ticket that put me in this seat was love.
A wife, mother and educator who has Indiana roots and a passionate spirit. Chelsea is a sappy romantic, coffee junkie, book collector, and person who wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s sarcastic, full of jokes, full of tears, and enjoys writing most when life gets messy or complicated. In 2017, Chelsea's mother passed away. Through her grief journey, she decided to take her mother’s advice and share her writing with the world. One day she gained the courage to honor her mother's wishes and write. It turned out to be one of the best decisions she's ever made.