The sea was turbulent with rolling white caps, a rapid current, and large waves crashing onto the beach. Little nine-year old Chris, my nephew, stood at the ocean’s edge and offered advice to his Uncle Rob as he approached the water. Chris raised both his arms straight over his head, inclined them toward the rough waters, and belted out, “It’s rough out there, but you’ve just gotta power through!”
The wind carried Chris’ words fifty yards away where part of our family sat huddled on the beach. We were trying to process the tragic news of the previous hours. Our sister, Mary, had called to tell us that her daughter, Meg, had died from an apparent drug overdose. It was heartbreaking, shattering news. Much like the ocean, emotions were crashing in and swirling about.
Power through. Who knew how this little piece of advice, offered by one the youngest members of the family, would inspire us in the days to come?
Only days earlier Meg and her two-year old son were sitting on the same patch of beach. Meg appeared healthy and happy. She dug a hole in the sand for her son, raced her younger brother into the ocean, and played corn hole with her sister. It was a gorgeous day filled with love and laughter, capped off with a huge family dinner at her grandparents’ home. It had been a long, hard road to recovery for Meg and everyone who loved her, but Meg was set to celebrate her one-year anniversary of being clean. There was much hope and gratitude that she was emerging from the hellhole of addiction, leaving behind her old lifestyle and patterns.
There are no answers to the many questions we all have: How could this happen? Why? What led up to this? What could we have done differently? Where was God?
In the face of these questions, we power through. It’s become our mantra as we move through the work of grief-through the practical details of notifying family and friends, planning a funeral, and saying goodbye to Meg. We power through in adjusting to life without Meg. We power through as Meg’s sister and her family welcome Meg’s beloved little boy under their roof and into their family.
How do we find the strength to do this? We power through out of love for Meg. We power through with the love and support, of one another, our families, our friends, and our communities. We power through with prayer and with the help of our God who cries with us and accompanies us in our grief. We power through knowing that there are always new beginnings, for Meg and for us.
Powering through doesn’t mean that we ignore the feelings of our grief; it means that we find the strength to move through them and try not to let them overwhelm us. There will be those times when the waves of grief seem to be crashing down on us, threatening to overwhelm us. Then it is time to remember Chris’ brave words to his uncle, “You’ve just gotta power through!”
In loving memory of my niece, Marian Elizabeth Burdick “Meg”, who died on August 30, 2013.