A Comforting Comforter: Hope in the Midst of Grief

comforter

Sharon awakened to the smell of coffee brewing.  John’s pillow is cold. He must be downstairs drinking his coffee. That’s his usual habit in the mornings.  He’s probably drinking from his favorite mug. The one we found last summer at the Lego store. That was one of our best vacations.  After walking on the beach and watching the waves, we wanted to buy a few gifts for the family. The Lego Store caught our attention with all of its bright colors and the children playing.  I remember John’s face as he watched the children’s eyes light up when they saw their superheroes take shape. In the corner, John found a cute little motorcycle made of blocks and reminisced about burning his ankle on a tailpipe when he was young.  We had a good laugh and went for ice cream.    

The air is thick.  I can’t breathe. What’s on my face?  Oh! It’s just John’s comforter. I must have cuddled it in my sleep.  It smells like John but he’s not in bed. Where did he go? That’s right.  He’s in the kitchen while drinking coffee. I’m tired still. Maybe just a few more minutes of sleep will help. The grocery store can wait.  I’m not hungry anyway.

The knocking won’t stop.  What is that noise? Is someone hammering? It quieted when I covered my head with the comforter again, but there is no chance of going back to sleep now.  The hammering continues. Someone’s at the door. Ignoring it doesn’t work. Whoever it is won’t go away. Why is John not answering the door? It takes me a few minutes for my mind to clear.  I wrap in the comforter and head for the door. John’s not here. His jacket isn’t hanging on the chair. That’s odd. I don’t remember him telling me that he was going somewhere. Oh no!! I remember now.  John is dead, I cried to no one. He died four weeks ago. What is wrong with me? As I open the door, Sylvia reaches out as I fall into a sobbing heap.  

When my mind calms, I realize that Sylvia and I are on the floor.  I’ve collapsed in the doorway with Sylvia holding me, comforting me in my grief.  We move to the sofa as I share my pain. I forgot that she was coming over today but I’m thankful for her support.  Sometimes I need someone to listen without judgement or trying to make me feel better with good intentioned clichés.  No one knows what to say. No one can help me now. John is gone. What am I going to do without John? How can I survive?  

As darkness peaks through the curtains I’m still holding the comforter.  The TV is on but I have no idea what program is showing. I’ve muted the sound.  Quiet. So quiet. Earlier, Sylvia asked me how I could find hope in the midst of my grief.  I see my Bible on the table beside me. I’m Christian. John and I made that decision before the kids were born.  Before John died, I remember the pastor calling Jesus a comforter. Maybe this will help. Read. Read. Read. Do the research.  Pray. Find out what is wrong with me and how I can fix it. I can’t. Scripture is fuzzy. I cannot comprehend what I’m reading. My phone is too small, my glasses aren’t strong enough.  My ipod is dead. Here I go again, sobbing into our comforter. I can’t do this alone but I can’t ask for help. I don’t want to be a burden. Everyone is busy and has their own lives and families.  I’m the one who helps everyone else. I helped John…until I couldn’t.   

My hope is that one day this deep uncontrollable pain will subside.  This very second, my hope is that I can move from this sofa without collapsing into a puddle on the floor again.  My hope for the future is …well…I can’t think about that right now. How can I get through this? How can I find hope?  How can I move forward when I can’t even get off the sofa? Comforter? Yes! It’s so soft and fluffy …comforting …comforter.

Rev. Dr. Christine (Tina) Woody

Chaplain PruittHealth Hospice Greenville

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