Emotional Crack-the-Whip

As an only child, playground games were foreign to me. I clearly remember the first time someone (one of the “cool” kids) asked me to join in on a game of “crack the whip” during recess. Naive, I joined the end of the line of children holding hands and was told, “don’t let go.” By the time it was over I thought the bones and joints in my arm and shoulder had surely snapped.

The grieving process reminds me of that playground game.

We’re almost four months in. Despite my best intentions, my son’s ashes are still planted in the center of my home on an antique cabinet that once housed an early-era TV or radio (I’m not sure how old it is). He may stay there indefinitely, but I do plan on finding him a more suitable container, or at least a more suitable bag for the temporary container from the crematorium. I thought a Crown Royal bag might suit him (Jack Daniels doesn’t make bags), but I can’t find one that’s large enough.

As the immediate family left behind, we’re riding the waves. Up one day, down the next.

What has surprised me is the “crack-the-whip” effect of day to day events:

My little rescue Westie is having some health problems that could be terminal… WHIP-CRACK negative 100.

A new grandbaby, hallelujah!… WHIP-CRACK positive 10,000.

Work stress that should be neutral is a WHIP-CRACK negative 50.

A minor event in the life of the youngest child that should be a negative 10 or 15 becomes a negative 75 or 80. WHIP-CRACK.

The death of another local young person—who knew my boys—to complications from the flu due to preexisting health problems is at least a negative 90.

I’ve had multiple days of permeating sadness and mind-boggling loss. I expected that much. But this emotional crack-the-whip is exhausting. Anxiety and gratitude compete for every breath… and there’s no escape from this playground game.

It’s as if everything is amplified… the good and the bad. Maybe this is living outside the humdrum, day-to-day existence I’ve come to accept as normal. Maybe I should view these extremes as a blessing.

Meanwhile, I cling to my bit of driftwood amid the shipwreck and hope for the best.

Death does not negate the promises of God. That’s hard to accept in the face of death, but I still believe it’s true.

For now, I expect the roller-coaster of emotions to continue.

Perhaps I’ll learn to enjoy the ride.


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