2016: the year of mourning

Definition of mourning

1:  the act of sorrowing

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Mourning is often associated with grief over death of a person. Death is one of the most painful experiences in life. I’ve experienced mourning over loved ones. But this year, I also learned that mourning happens when you experience loss in other ways… and it’s even necessary. Nothing super catastrophic happened this year, however, 2016 felt so yucky. I’ve been thinking and processing through why I’m so eager to get rid of 2016 for the past few months, and I think it’s because I’ve spent great part of this year mourning, or sorrowing over loss of people, places, things, and ideas.

This year, I’ve mourned end or change in relationships. Some people come and go based on circumstances, proximity, or life stages. It’s hard to accept that some friendships change over time… and some even end. but I’ve had to accept the fact that some people who was once very close to me is no longer in my life for various reasons… and it’s okay.

I’ve mourned not being able to call myself an Angeleno. I moved to Los Angeles at the age of 13… and while I’ve lived in Northern California for few years during and after college, Los Angeles became my home. I thought I was ready for change and move to the bay area… but after having established Los Angeles as my home for close to 30 years, I realized how LA I’ve become… and how much of a city girl I’ve become. I still think Los Angeles is over-rated, but I’ve grieved over my familiar taken out of my life. I’ve grieved over not being able to go to the beach to clear my head, for Gloria-days, and just because I love the ocean. I’ve grieved over not having access to my favorite restaurants, museums, theatres, and even Disneyland. But most of all, I’ve grieved over not having my close friends and family at my arms reach. Texting and calling is just not the same as face to face interactions… and that was harder than I had ever imagined.

I’ve mourned aging of my grandfather and my dad. My last-living grandparent is 99 years old. He was so lucid and active even until couple years ago. But he is no longer than grandpa I’ve known and loved for so many years. He doesn’t remember that I’ve moved. We’re no longer able to talk about ministry nor life. Our conversation now consists of “please eat,” “are you well?” and “i love you.” And because he doesn’t remember our very short conversation 5 minutes ago, it’s groundhogs day for 2 hours that I see him whenever I visit LA. I miss my old grandpa who inspired and encourage me. My dad also turned 74 years old this year… and now that I don’t see him regularly, I see how much he has aged each visit. My heart aches as I see his physical ailments that come with aging. I grieve as I see him struggle through life of modern technology which is not-so-friendly for the aging population. I sorrow as I see the heartache he endures caring for his aging father and the frustrations of his family. He’s grown impatient. He’s grown less considerate. I have to work harder to recognize him because he’s not the father I grew up with. He used to take care of me… now he’s grown dependent on me. He’s aging… and that means he’s changing in ways that feels unfamiliar.

I’ve mourned over feelings of disappointment after disappointment after disappointment this past year. As cynical and pessimistic as I am, I still expect more and better of people in my family to people in my life to people in this world. I expect people to be loving. I expect people to be kind. I expect people to extend grace. I expect people to think of others ahead of oneself. I expect people to be honest. I expect people to have more empathy. I expect people to be more forgiving. I expect people to be responsible. I expect people to own up to their mistakes. Although I know that we’re all broken, nobody is perfect, and in need of redeemer, I expect people to try harder (I’m sure I’ve disappointed many people as well). Perhaps my expectations are too high or unreal… but as I’ve grieved over my feelings of disappointments throughout the year, I’ve had to reassess my expectations of people… and that was hard to swallow.

Throughout the year, I’ve learned that when something changes, whether it’s relationships, people, location, or even ideas, it’s important to mourn the loss of what once was and face new reality. It’s not easy… in fact, it often felt painful and sucky. But one can’t live in the past because that feels suckier. All this mourning throughout this year taught me more about myself… the way I think, the way I feel, the way I process, the way I react. I don’t expect 2017 to start off great all of a sudden. I expect to stay on this journey of mourning the loss but learning the embrace the new… and live each day with hope that comes from Jesus.

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