Not a post I planned to write this week. Nor was it sitting in my drafts with several other unfinished posts, but it’s what I’ve been preoccupied with enough to feel compelled to do. Consider it a grief update, if you like.
It has been six months since I touched on my personal grief, and eighteen months since our loss. That number doesn’t seem real. I was getting by okay for quite awhile. However, like the frozen ground after a warm spring thaw, cracks have begun to appear.
Recently I’d been feeling down and blue, and generally malaised, unable to recognize the source or pinpoint a reason for those feelings. Last week, I came home from work with such little energy, feeling only numbness. I laid on my stomach on the couch for hours. My husband had made a tasty dinner, which I got up to eat. He was excited to listen to the home openers for our major league baseball teams, chilled a few craft beers for the occasion, and set the radio (goodbye, cable tv) to the game; I truly don’t deserve him sometimes. I laid on the couch listening to the ballgame, which at least made it seem like I was doing something, and I stayed there all night. I wanted to lay there for days, months, forever. Want is too strong a word. I felt a lack of want, to do or feel anything ever again.
There are times when emotions bounce off of me without absorbing them, except in a robotic state. There are swings to the other end of the pendulum, too. Occasions where sadness and pain are immediate and anger is searing, when I wish to scream at the top of my voice that, LIFE IS SO UNFAIR!
In the words of Augustus Waters in John Green’s, The Fault In Our Stars, “That’s the thing about pain, it demands to be felt.” I’m trying to remember that, accept it and let the hurt and sadness come, rather than tamp it down, as I have an urge to do. I try to remind myself life is neither fair, nor unfair, but what you make of it. I remind myself, too, that in many ways I’m lucky. I still have both of my parents, though not in stellar health and dealing with their own grief, while many friends have lost a parent younger than my own. I’m married to a wonderful man, I have meaningful relationships, a job I enjoy doing well…some days these reminders are helpful, others, they make no difference.
A few insights I’ve learned through grief:
It’s well-known that grief is isolating. Many people are oblivious to the struggles and inner turmoil occurring at any given moment to those experiencing grief. This is understandable, it’s difficult to know what another is going through, especially when attempts must be made to ‘put on a brave face.’ Reverting to solitude is natural when one feels no one understands.
Grief drives you to distraction. During this recent rekindled bout, I’ve forgotten my phone, coffee and lunchbag numerous times. Also important essentials, such as, applying deodorant and forgetting my dog outside for an hour one chilly night (until I recognized little scratches on the back door as my shivering pup). Still, not as bad as the time I left the gas burner on the stove turned on, after cooking a meal I dropped off to my parents on my way to work last year. Thank goodness my husband comes home for daily lunch and turned it off before the house burned down.
Grief, short and long-term, causes a loss in focus even when you remember what you should be doing. I haven’t been able to read more than a few pages at a time in months, for example. Staring into space at work, making mistakes on simple tasks, sitting in traffic or arriving somewhere without remembering how I’d gotten there occurs more often than it should.
Grief may cause you to question the value of certain aspects of your life, and life in general. This doubt can lead to uncertainty, anxiety and stagnation. Attempts to reconcile all of these aspects with the rest of living makes grief a daily burden.
Lastly, everyone’s grieving period is different.
What has helped:
I’ve begun following a grief guide page on social media, which provides daily supportive messages to those experiencing grief and/or loss. Not all apply to what I’m feeling, but it has pushed me to pay better attention to what I’m going through. Much is linked to David Kessler’s site Grief.com.
Awareness helps, walking, talking and writing helps. Diversions, healthy escapes, making plans, occasions to look forward to, times when I feel I’m making a difference, all help. As does an occasional day of laying on the couch. Already I feel better today than I did yesterday.