Yes. I know. I have a funny thing about time. And dates. I take time to reflect on time and what time is, or might be.
Linear? Circular? Fluid? Fixed? Conceptual? Real? Polychronic? Monochronic? Measurable? Full of meaning and emotion? Or void of emotion and meaning?
Time takes on such a different meaning, a different feel, post-loss.
People say “Time stops”. I don’t think that’s true. I think “Time hangs, and grows pregnant, fit to burst”.
People say, “Time heals”. I don’t think that’s true either. I think healing is a choice, and you can heal from day one. Or even before. But it’s a choice.
People say, “In time you will just remember the sweet stuff”. That may be, over a long long long time, but not within 5 months, or 2.5 years, or even 3.5 or 4+ years. Yes – perhaps the sweet memories can start to outweigh the hard memories, but again there’s a massive element of choice, of intentionality, at play. It takes no effort at all for me to remember the hard stuff, if I choose to. And it takes no effort at all for me to remember the good stuff, if I choose to. If I am in a funk, only the crappy stuff comes. And if I am in a good space, more good stuff comes. It all hurts though. It’s either sweeter, or more poignant. Both hurt.
People also say, “It will get better”. I ask back, “What is the ‘it?’” My body’s aching? My fragile, hurting, bashed up heart? My quality of sleep? My engagement with life? My incessant fear about having another child die before I do? My roller-coaster emotions? What exactly gets better?
It’s all such hollow talk. Such shallow reflections. And totally useless. An abhorrent waste of time.
Here are some deeper – to me – reflections about time, post-loss.Read more
Grief is like a roller-coaster, sometimes you are up and sometimes you are down. There is no actual manual on how to navigate all this. There are resources to help you with it, but everyone deals with things differently.
I feel like this roller-coaster of grief is tricky. I feel like I have made great progress in moving forward with my grief, but I still feel stuck. Before my husband passed away, I always knew what I wanted. I had a good career, I married the man of my dreams, I was blessed with a child, and things seem to be in order in my life. Everything I strived for, I got through hard work and dedication. Then my life blew up, and I just don’t know what direction to take.Read more
(Note: Even though I live in France, I am basically British, and in the UK we call what Americans call a “Teeter Totter” a “See-Saw”; and we call what Americans call a “Merry-Go-Round” a “Roundabout”. At least we did back in the last millennium when I last lived in the UK).
I have in my mind’s eye one of those playground attractions
A blend of a see-saw and a roundabout
They actually do exist
I have been on at least one – probably not as a young child
But either as an adult child, or even a middle-aged child
I have long loved big swings and even some exciting slides
But I once fell off a roundabout when I was 6 years old
When living in Swansea, and broke my leg
(Fractured actually, but I understood the word “broken” better)
And I considered see-saws to be boring and static
But ones that swing around as they go up and down?
Much more fun
Until the sensation is no longer simply pure joy
Rising up and up and up
With an occasional bump back down to keep the
Instead it’s now just the occasional up
Out of a vast, all-encompassing sumpRead more
What you don’t know is that
People die because of Grief
People die because of a Broken Heart
People Die by Suicide
Because their Grief is
Too Much to Bear
I had a call just last night from the
Now-orphaned-daughter of a friend
Whose husband was my friend and colleague
He had helped Mike get to
Chemo treatments on occasion when
I just couldn’t manage to fit it all in
But my friend also died
Just months after Mike died
And my new friend
My friend’s wife
Missed him too much
And like Julia chose to end the
Desperately Painful Grief that had
Settled over her life and her being
Her present and future and
Even her past
Replacing the love she had once felt
And reveled in and rejoiced in
Not a fair reward for
Decades of love
In the past 24 hours…
…I collected my youngest daughter’s “personal effects” from the clinic she’d been attending
…I was told that her death by suicide most probably wasn’t pre-meditated, but an “on the spur of the moment” action
…I learned that my baby girl had been terrified at the possibility of being a carrier for Lynch syndrome – she still needed to wait three more years before she was eligible for testing
…I heard that she had included me, her mum, in the short list of “reasons she wouldn’t take her life”
It makes me heave. I feel sick. I just want to vomit it all up.
In the past 24 hours…
…I have sat in my bed and looked through the pictures and artwork that Julia had on her bedroom walls at the clinic
…I have sat on her bed and read through a calendar where she recorded her mood, what she ate, what she was thinking…it’s full of pain
…I have knelt on her floor and opened and closed and opened and closed again the cartons I collected with Pascaline from the centre
…I have put the ceremony card from her service on my office shelves
It turns my legs to jelly. My throat constricts. My tummy clenches more.Read more
Along about the second year, definitely going into the third and then the fourth…I just wanted to scream at people.
Not in anger, but in shredded grief and pain…
Why can’t you just let me be sad? Why does it feel like I must defend myself against you? Why does it then feel like I have to defend my grief even to myself? Why does it feel like I can’t just feel what I feel, be whatever I am? Why must I expend all this energy defending my right to feel all that this is? Why is it not okay with you that I can’t find my feet and I’m feeling so disoriented that my stomach continually wants to heave its’ contents? Why are you trying to make me feel like I’m doing something wrong?
Why can’t you just let me be fucking sad?
These are a mere sampling of the piercing reactions that took up so much space in my heart and soul and mind in the first years of grief, in reaction to all the well meaning mostly discussions that people would have with me. To me, really, because they weren’t seeking discussion with me as much as they were telling me where they thought I should be with this, or how they thought I should be with this.
Grief, I mean.
How I was grieving vs how they thought I should be grieving.
They didn’t realize this is what they were doing, of course. At least, I hope they didn’t realize this is what they were doing.
Whether that was their intention or not, shaming is how I heard every word.
And every word from them shattered me more, because I, and we, already judge ourselves so much, when we grieve.Read more
Did you ever feel so consumed by your own grief that you have forgotten that others grieve too? That they grieve not only for the loss of your spouse, who may have been a friend to them, but possibly they grieve also for other people that you may know absolutely nothing about? Do you find that during this time of all consuming grief, you have forgotten that other people have suffered loss too?
Recently that realization has hit me hard.
For the last 19 months I have been consumed by my own grief and I didn't have room to consider the possibility that anyone else in my life could be carrying around a similar, agonizing grief from their own past. That wasn't on my radar at all. Lately though ... lately my eyes have opened a bit to the world around me as I have slowly started to awaken from my drugged slumber (figuratively drugged, not literally), and I have been surprised to discover that others - not random strangers but actual people who are a part of my life - have suffered their own agonizing losses that I knew nothing about. How could I have not known??Read more
"Don't lie" shouted my step-dad from the other side of the room.
This exchange happened while my Mum was in ICU in April 2008. My dad called to check up, and we had our auto-pilot introductory exchange. My step-dad called it for what it was.
My step-dad also said during this time, "Never get married. Loosing a spouse sucks".
Well look what I up and did.Read more
I've lost my body connection. In the months since my dearest husband died, my body has become alien to me and I realized it fully last week when I joined a gentle stretching yoga class. My daughter was the instructor and she is, indeed, gentle in both movement of body and in manner.Read more