It still shocks me how totally ignorant I was about the grieving process before having to go through it myself. I've been at this for ten months, as of today, and I still don't really understand it. All I know is one minute I can be laughing at a joke; or smiling at strangers as I walk down the street; or excitedly making plans for a holiday; or wrestling and giggling with my nephews ... and the next minute I can hardly breathe from the pain of missing him.
I honestly can't remember the last day I didn't cry. Sometimes it's only for two minutes, other days it takes two hours before I can pull myself together. I’m having a lot of those days again lately, which is so exhausting.
I also realized this week I’ve been pretending to be doing better than I actually am, even with really close friends, because I'm aware that if I let show how much I'm constantly hurting, people may grow weary of hearing about it. I mean, I'm so bored of my grief, of course I expect everyone else is too. Friends reassure me that they’re not, and I should continue to share and seek support. And I do, particularly on the really tough days. But on some level, every day is a difficult day and despite their best intentions, I know that if I constantly moaned to my friends about how sad I am and how much I miss my husband, the running commentary would drive them crazy.
Last weekend I helped pull off of a surprise 35th birthday party for one of my closest friends and also co-hosted another dear friend’s baby shower. Both took a huge emotional toll on me. The surprise party was full of couples who, for some reason, kept bloody talking about their engagements and weddings (which lead to me having a private breakdown in the kitchen mid-party), while the baby shower was, not-surprisingly, also very confronting.
By the end of the weekend the emotional hang-over was in full swing and I have struggled to get back on top all week. Even though I chose to be there, to support people who have been so supportive of me, I think I pushed myself a bit too hard. I’m finding it so difficult to strike that healthy balance between self-care and continuing to participate with life.
My friends tell me to be open with my emotions and never to feel like I have to be brave in front of them, but can you imagine if I spent both events ‘sharing’ how much I was struggling? What a party-pooper! Sometimes I’m just forced to keep the ‘I’m ok’ face on because, as wonderful as my friends are, there are moments where I need to protect them from the pain I’m feeling.
At ten months I think people may have started to expect me to be doing ‘ok’ more days that not. Even worse, I’m putting that expectation onto myself, then taking it really badly when I ‘fail’. I know it hurts them to see me in pain and they miss the ‘old Bec’ but I also know they understand and accept my grief and would do anything to try and help me get through this. No one is putting pressure on me – I’m putting pressure on myself, but I have to accept there are always going to be moments where I’m just going to have to put that brave face back on.
So this week I’m going back to basics. I’m reminded myself that this pain will never fully go away, I'll just get better at carrying it. I need to tune in to my instincts more and identify when I need to rest and when I can push out of my comfort zone. And I’m going to stop putting so much pressure on myself to understand my grief and conquer it. After all, how can I expect people around me not to question why I'm not 'coping better' yet if I can't let go of that expectation myself.