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Grieving our Losses 10- Mid-Life Mourning, Part 1

Grieving Our Losses
Day 10- Mid-Life Mourning, Part 1
Wendi Colaiuta

“When the storm passes through, the wicked are swept away, but the righteous are an everlasting foundation.” (Proverbs 10:25, NET)
“But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me.” (2 Timothy 4:17, ESV)

Irritability. Fighting tears and sorrow that can’t easily be explained. Exhausting hot flashes day and night. Weight gain. Water retention. Binging on all the wrong foods. Running out of steam and finding an afternoon nap is my current autopilot. Feeling so empty, so lacking in any motivation or eagerness or energy or drive—for anything. The smallest things seem like mountains to achieve.

This season is hard—this transition to menopause. It feels like the worst kind of “pause” when more than just a body stops working the way it once did. It is more than unsettling. And it is so very lonely.

Some days, the hours tick by painfully slowly. I would love for my husband to burst through the door with fresh energy and resolve to fill in my gaps. But he’s just not in that place. Menopause is colliding with a very intense and difficult professional season for him. We are fighting our own battles and find it hard to be of much help to each other. It would be way too easy for both of us to sink into a melancholy stupor by the end of each day.

We struggle to hold each other up, so we settle for holding each other. We search for each other in the dark of night and drift back to sleep holding hands. There are many moments of physical closeness with no words. Sometimes there are long sighs or trickling tears; other times we put on a brave smile. And every once in a while, one of us will share a moment from the day or week that helps us both break into full-belly laughter. Those moments feel good, but they are so rare right now.

I force myself to walk to the mailbox every day. Fresh air always seems to help! Pulling my new Victoria magazine, British edition, from the pile, I half-smile as I remember that we’ve day-dreamed about a trip to Ireland next summer to finally celebrate this notable year when both of us are turning 50 and reaching our 20th wedding anniversary, yet lost in the sweep of this difficult season. I have a hard time even allowing myself to get excited about the possibility of such a trip that seems out of reach in this moment.

It’s hard to fight the fear that we’re stuck here. It is a fear that haunts that 50-something milestone, that the best days are already behind us—the productive, exciting, engaging, accomplishing, passionate days when we threw all of ourselves into our latest goal and didn’t look back. Now we look back and wonder if we ever got “there.”

We’re too young to not have goals but we suddenly feel like we haven’t a clue what they should be. All we know is that we don’t want to wake up another decade from now (thankful enough that the Lord has spared us and carried us to that point) feeling bewildered and lost and struggling worse than we are now.

This is just one woman’s private journal entry from the thick of a tumultuous season—something I wrote five years ago that had gotten buried in computer files. It was a mid-life pause that raised more questions than I was prepared to field at the time. There were daily curveballs that seemed to keep coming from every direction without reprieve.

The five years since have brought even more transition: selling the home where our kids grew up, living in limbo for 18 months, launching our young adult children into college life, moving hundreds of miles up the eastern coast, renovating a 1915 house, settling into a new town, and embracing a new local body of believers. Although the physical throes of menopause have subsided, new health challenges have arisen, and many of those mid-life questions remain.

Change—it happens to us all. We rarely see it coming. Even when we think we know what to expect, we realize there is no way to fully prepare for each new wave of challenges, losses, or the gamut of physical, emotional, or spiritual responses to all of the above.

This mid-life season is often bombarded with a string of changes. What once felt like a happy, stable groove of life-as-we-know-it is suddenly and dramatically different. Each transition inevitably brings its own form of true grieving: the tell-tale signs of struggling to navigate what stretches us, or the deep ache of a gaping hole left by someone or something we held dear, mourning the loss of what once was or what could have been, and now it is gone.

How do we navigate mourning in the midst of mid-life’s upheaval? To whom do we turn to map out a path forward that rings true in our hearts? A faithful, gentle nudge reminds us: any emptiness we feel should draw our hearts to the Father.

What does He want us to do with this disoriented ache? What is His plan for this season? How will He grant us space to grieve what is lost, while also infusing hope and fresh vision for what is still ahead? Our best choice is to bring it to Him and trust He will lead us one step at a time to the other side of this valley. He always has and He always will!

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