It’s hard work, this grieving.
It’s been almost four months since my son died, and I work at this grief every day. I’m trying hard not to stuff away my feelings because I know that causes dis-ease.
One of my good friends lost a son about 20 years ago, and, according to her husband, she never worked through the grief. She died some five years later from a hole in the heart. That was the honest to god medical diagnoses.
My former mother-in-law and sister-in-law, developed tumors, one in the breast and one in the stomach, after their daughter/sister died in a car accident. So I do know enough not to stuff all my grief.
And I know that I don’t have to heal those around me; although that is much more difficult to put into practice than I had originally thought.
Right after Rick died, I was concerned about how my daughter, my husband, and Rick’s best friend were processing this death. So I kept a keen ear open to what they said and a watchful eye on how they were reacting. And, I’ve kept up this vigilance towards them and with other friends close to Rick.
Everyone looked to me initially to see how I was holding up, and as they saw me deal with it fairly well, they found that they could too.
Now, while they may have bad moments now and then, everyone seems to be moving forward and aren’t stuck grasping for meaning or answers. So that’s good. But it’s left me without an outward focus.
Healing others, offering comfort to others, was healing to me and so very natural to do. Now, I’m the “last one standing,” as they say.
I work hard at not going into the would-a, should-a, could-a type of thoughts. I don’t allow myself to dwell on what would have been if he were still alive. I turn my thoughts to other things when I start to go down that path.
Staying that aware of my thoughts and re-focusing them when necessary is a lot of work. It certainly depletes my energy, but I know that I have many months ahead of me, so I must stay focused.
Yet everywhere I turn, every place I visit, I see him. I’ll be sitting on the porch, and my eye will catch upon the corner post and beam that he straddled like a monkey last summer when we were building the deck. I look at the kitchen counter and remember him cooking his famous pancakes in the morning – totally scruffy looking, unshaven, hat on backwards, smiling and having fun. I know soon, someday, I will be able to smile at those memories and even laugh out loud, but right now I still tear up and my heart breaks open each and every time. I turn away from the memory because I can’t yet allow it to penetrate my core.
And that means that I’m holding back on all my emotions. I’m afraid to feel anything fully as I’m not sure I can feel without opening myself up to the pain of this loss. I’m aware of this and trying to deal with it. I don’t want to wall off my heart as that too causes dis-ease.
But I’m missing the full experience of life right now. The pine/dirt/rock smell is not as soothing as it always has been and the flowers, not as sweet.
My energy is being used internally to keep the grief from getting the upper hand. I’m learning to be OK with letting go of the need to do some of the ordinary daily tasks. The “I should do this; I should do that,” keeps coming to the forefront of my thoughts. I push those “should” thoughts out, take a deep breath, acknowledge and validate the NOW, and “go within” for a moment to determine what’s the most healing thing I could do right this minute.
Spiritually, I’ve said good-bye to Rick so that he can move forward to his next adventure. That was particularly hard for me to do because I was not ready to let him go. I wanted to hold him close; thinking that if I let him go I would lose those special “Mom” feelings.
But now I know that letting go was also healing for me. I was trying to keep Rick in the present, in the NOW. I kept looking for something visceral, a touch, a smell, a smile. But that’s not where he is. He is, and always will be, a very huge part of the past, but he is not in my present, nor is he in my future.
That was quite a revelation for me. Healing, but hard. So all in all, I would say that I’m doing OK. I’m reflective; I’m writing, I’m doing a lot of energy work. I’m taking each day and moving forward – not backward – but sometimes sideways and then forward.
Maybe like a crab, two steps sideways and one step ahead, but I am moving forward.