So the past week I’ve been down with a cold, which means I slow right down……and it gives me a lot of time at night to ponder on the big issues, while I can’t sleep. (Colds and Menopause – who knew this is like chronic sleep deprivation for the non HRT me?).
I thought a lot about how I coped in the aftermath of the losses I’ve experienced so far. Of how I shut down at first by the first waves of grief, of how getting out of bed, eating right or even exercising seemed things too far away to cope with. Of sheltering in the grief as it pounded away at me.
Then there comes a day when you can get out bed, with your box of tissues, and though it’s not easy, you get through a day. It’s no longer getting through that initial hour by hour loss, but it’s a day. Slowly you learn to live in this new world that has been created for you by the loss, and your feelings of loss. You adapt, because you have to. If you don’t you stay mired at the point of loss, and forever swim in that tragic grief.
It’s not easy – the first year, all those firsts you have to weather. And our western society expects us to put on a brave face and get through them, even when all you want to do is crawl backwards into bed. For me it’s justifiable, that’s how I grieve, I wail, I gnash, I sob, and I want to do that by myself, in the safety of my own room. (Door closed, tissue boxes lined up). It’s not fair that we’re expected to hide this part of who we are now. But it’s part of what society expects. (A cruel expectation especially in that first year).
So you weather that first year, and you’re faced with the second, the third years, and I will say for me, they did get a little easier to deal with. But that’s because I allowed myself to grieve at my own pace and in my own fashion. I was kind and gentle to myself, and not taking on the stiff upper lip attitude when my heart had been broken and it felt like the world as I knew it had ended. (Even when it was obvious the rest of the world kept going, oblivious to the gaping hole now in my life).
So I’m now at sixteen years passed the death of my beloved mother. I can now think back on what we had, on what we shared, and also on her flaws. She’s no longer a saint, but a human being, that I loved dearly, even though we did argue, bicker and disagree on major issues. I can for the most part (last week excepted) talk about her, and share her with my own family now.
But it took a long time for me to get through looking at friend’s sharing moments with their own mothers without tearing up and crying. For the loss of what might have been, could have been, had been.
During these sixteen years, I’ve lost my Dad, friends, relations, and each loss has changed again my world subtly at times, or in the case of my Dad, forced me again to re evaluate what I wanted, what I needed to do with the remaining years of my own life.
So for me, going on after a loss of any kind, is a simple fact of just getting through the grief, to feel it wash over you, acknowledge it, and then be kind and gentle until you’re ready to start living the new life, the one that was formed in the temple of your grief. It’s hard, it’s bitter, it’s full of anger and rage at times, but it’s a process that we have to go through, to get to the new phase.