It has been almost 6 months since my mom died and though I’m better, I am still sometimes oppressively racked with grief. It doesn’t render me incapable of experiencing joy as it did those weeks following my loss, but it has fundamentally changed how I live my life.
Horrible: I felt guilty for not being who I was before the loss – my normal adventurous, glass-half-full self. I loathed bringing anybody down and acting happy felt suffocatingly disingenuous. So rather than choosing to work out with friends, go out to lunch, or attend get-togethers, I ran to the lake alone, skipped out on parties, and got into my pajamas embarrassingly early. When grief took over, the want-tos were a struggle. And the have-tos? They were damn near impossible. (The truth is, all of these things still sometimes happen.)
Also horrible: I am frustrated because I feel that my grief is not commensurate with my loss. This is how I would have imagined feeling had I lost a child. After all, shouldn’t I have been more prepared for this? She had been sick for a long time and even if that weren’t a factor, losing a parent is the natural order of things, isn’t it? So when grief settles in, I sit in my self-imposed, emotional solitary confinement, knowing the sadness can’t possibly make sense to others. It barely makes sense to me.
But here’s what’s not horrible: Grief has been a great sieve, sifting out the tiny grains of unimportance and retaining in its mesh what is real. This analogy came to me years ago when I was dealing with a different loss, but the feelings that propelled it quickly vanished and I was back to life as usual. This time, I don’t know how long it will be before I am “back to life as usual”. And maybe that’s not a bad thing.
And here, the gift: Those who have reached into my dark microcosm and shared laughter and tears or offered a powerfully simple “thinking of you” have taught me one of life’s greatest lessons – that real love steps forward, not back. And I will forever carry that with me.
A favorite song by a favorite artist, perfectly encapsulating right now. Click to listen: In Repair