On April 2, 2018, I lost a very close friend and coworker, Marissa Stevens. By trade, I am a therapist. I tell people on a weekly basis how to grieve. I share the importance of letting oneself feel because feeling brings healing. I have had to take my own advice this week. Luckily it was spring break and half my clientele was away. One of my friends said to me “Don’t you wish this happened next week when you are busy so you don’t have time to think about it?” Honestly, yes that would’ve have been great because by nature I am an emotional stuffer. I don’t like to cry; I don’t like to express emotions. I am trying to get better at it because I know healing only happens when we allow ourselves to feel pain. On the other side of pain is healing.
I miss Marissa so much. We chatted practically every day. She brought joy to my life on a gloomy day. She radiated beauty, strength, and endurance. There have been so many times in the last seven days that I have thought “I will just message Marissa” only to be consumed with grief when I realized I could not message her anymore. I have lost my grandparents, my mother in law and family friends but Marissa is the first person I have lost that I have done life with on a daily basis. I miss seeing her orange car when she pulled into the office. I miss her feisty spirit. There are moments I feel good and I think it's going to be a good day then grief hits. It hits like an ocean wave coming out of nowhere leaving me feeling washed out, exhausted, and overwhelmed.
Grief has no time frame. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. The important thing is to grieve. David Kessler has created 5 stages of grief (later modified to 7). These are simply emotions to help us put words to what we are feeling. The 7 stages of grief are:
Over the past week, I have cycled through the first 4 stages several times a day. Sometimes several times an hour. Grief has hit me:
Riding in the car
Sitting in Marissa’s therapy room
Listening to a song that reminds me of her
Watching disabled teens play basketball
In the middle of therapy
Laying in bed at night
Frist thing in the morning
During a concert.
Grief has no time limits. It shows up when it wants. It consumes you as if someone is tearing your heart out of your chest. It often leaves you feeling hopeless, afraid and lonely.
I know one day, as long as I allow myself to feel, that I will eventually accept that Marissa is gone. That she is in a better place. She is no longer in pain. Until that day comes, I will sit in the grief. I will feel the pain, and I will hope that one day my mourning will turn into dancing.
In a few minutes, I am headed to her visitation. I hate goodbyes. I hate endings. While Marissa is no longer with us, I refuse to say her story has ended. I believe a new chapter is being written. A chapter filled with hope, joy and, acceptance to all those she leaves behind. Marissa only wanted one thing and that is through her suffering that others would see you can have joy in the journey. She would often say “I choose joy!” She would proclaim it because joy was not something that filled her every day but something she chose. A lot of her days she spent in pain but most days you would never know because much like the Apostle Paul, she would choose to boast about whatever was pure, noble and praiseworthy not about her sufferings.
My dearest Marissa,
I will see you later. I am glad you are no longer in pain. My heart leaps for joy at the thought of you meeting your savior. I know you wanted nothing more than to live a long life on earth but your presence in 29 years radiated life to all those around you. I will miss you terribly. I dread taking down your bio and profile down off our website. I hate planning and projecting without you. It doesn’t seem right. Thank you for loving your clients, for meeting them where they were at. Thank you for being a voice of truth and love. I enjoyed watching you grow and change over the past four years as a therapist. Thank you for being a part of our company and most importantly, thank you for being a friend and allowing us to be a part of your journey. I look forward to seeing how your life on earth affects many people for years to come.
Till we meet again,