‘To Everything There Is a Season’: Coping With Grief, Loss, and MS
Managing chronic illness has taught me important lessons about facing adversity
Hello, all. It’s been almost a year since I’ve written a column, and I missed connecting with you.
I’ve been processing the grief of losing my mother in September 2020, withstanding the challenges of living with multiple sclerosis and chronic pain, and valiantly attempting to find the message in the mess surrounding me.
Sadly, in February, my father passed away. Within 16 months, both parents left this earthly terrain. The monumental loss catapulted me into the greatest despair I’ve ever encountered. The agony was intense. Palpable were the salty, acidic tears that fell incessantly, burning the innermost parts of my soul. There were instances when taking a step felt impossible.
As I reflect on this time, I realize that every step I’ve taken has led me to this moment. As grief endures, gratitude abides. The intent of this column is to encourage you to persevere through life’s most difficult occurrences. One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned through my grief is the revelation and confirmation that there’s a reason for every season of my existence.
I remain sojourned in my season of loss and mourning. I know its remnants will linger for as long as I live, and that my grief cannot be measured by others’ standards. I need to feel every emotion that visits, allowing it to stay until I’ve gleaned its message.
Last July, I wrote about the peril of toxic positivity, and how it’s affected me and many others. I refused to allow anyone to stipulate the length of time and manner in which I lamented my losses. This remains true. I continue to do what is best for my mental and physical health. My emotions range from silent tears to screams and wails. Sometimes I desire to conquer the world in my parents’ honor, and other times, I don’t want to exist without them.
Yet there is beauty in the tragedy. I exalt in knowing my intense grief is the pronouncement of our grand love. The infinite adoration my parents and I shared is encrypted in my heart.
As I travel this unknown path, I cannot see what’s ahead. I resolve that although my parents’ season on earth is over, my season of continuing their legacy has commenced.
Life is the master teacher, and many of her lessons are learned in hindsight. I recognize that even this is a gift.
In solitude and reflection, I was compelled to reexamine my identity and being. Every loss I’ve endured has required a new version of myself. Multiple sclerosis, chronic illness, and chronic pain necessitate fluidity and the ability to pivot. Death, grief, loss, and adversity mandate the use of these same characteristics. I couldn’t prepare for most of the events that have challenged me throughout my life. I am, however, persevering through them.
If speaking about loss, grief, and the indigestible emotions that arise throughout the process supports one person, exposing my soul is worth it. To anyone who feels lonely or misunderstood, please know you are not alone. I stand in the same space: uncertain yet knowing. Depleted while complete. Despondent yet determined. Holding on to hope with every breath I take.
Life is constantly evolving, and so are we. Every season has a purpose. I’m looking to the hills for help, avowing that I’ll persist. Thank you for listening and for holding space.
“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted.” — Ecclesiastics 3:1-2, King James Version
You’re invited to visit my website at www.teresawrightjohnson.com.
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