It continues to be painful for me to exist here on this side of the veil without Amy. I make no excuses for feeling this way because I have accepted that she and her physical presence is that vital to my happiness. It has taken time, but I also have learned that my presence is needed in the small circles of my intimate family and loved ones so like it or not, there are times when I just have to dig deep and push.
However, I swear on a stack of bibles that there are times when I am unable to push myself. History has taught me that when I show up at something that I already know I am ill-equipped to manage, it takes a toll which takes weeks to reset. Time has taught me that I absolutely can say no when my energy is low and the world will not come to a screeching halt.
Doris Roberts died today. What a feisty woman! I’m probably misquoting her but she once said something that made perfect sense to me. She said if I look ahead at the what-ifs, I live in fear and if I look behind I live with regrets. Of course I know she was not talking about losing a child, but that is pretty much how I feel now. Regretful that I didn’t realize the joy and peace of contentment and fearful of the what-ifs that are inevitable in life.
Tonight I was driving by a local restaurant that I must’ve driven by 500 times since Amy’s sudden passing. Suddenly I was struck by the memory that the last time I was at that restaurant was the Friday night before Amy passed away. I remember there was a long wait to be seated, but I was quite content to sit outside with my husband as we played some word game on my cell phone. It struck me when I recalled that night how light my heart was that I could just sit out there and kill time without being tormented by a tortured mind. As I recall that evening, when they finally had a table for us we were seated in a tight corner which again didn’t bother me; we just ordered our food and enjoyed it. It didnt matter if I was seated next to a happy family or a young woman with beautiful curly hair. How could I take for granted that contentment I felt when all of my children were here?
How much power do other people’s words have upon your own grief? Are you better able to sort out the innocent recommendations as to how you should be handling your grief and forgive others under the blanket excuse of “well, they mean well?” Have you been up to weeding your garden of support to eliminate those who continue to hurt you or set you back? Heavy grief has an automatic button for doing a lot of that weeding all by itself which requires nothing from you other than to deal with the ramifications of those who no longer want to be in your life. We are all familiar with those secondary losses.
Certainly we all have figured out that there are just some relationships that are no longer meant to be. Season and reason? I guess there is some validity to that theory. Words and actions, or lack thereof, can leave scars which sabotage healing. Spiteful reactions are toxic. Maybe just an unspoken simple “peace out” is all that’s required at the end of some of those relationships. However I do confess that my family and I have been hurt deeply by others in this painful grief process.
Have you figured out that you are on your own pace in this grief and no one can push or pull you along? There are those among us who indeed soften and soothe our hearts but our loss is unfixable and no one knows the way…
Judy Unger, another bereaved mom, who often offers me compassionate support, recently wrote this in an email she sent to me:
“Truly I feel so disconnected. I’m honestly grateful not to be in the horrible place of deep grief, but how can I describe it? I feel like a person who was released from a prison. I am not like other people – I remember the prison and will never be the same person I was before.”
Judy is over 20 years on the other side of her path in grief, but her words resonated with me so strongly. I, however, am still doing my hard labor in the prison of grief, but there are times when I find glimmers of light and peace but only when I am able to intentionally quiet my reality by going to a place of numbness or distraction. Unfortunately, I cannot tell anyone else how to do this; it has been a long process for me to find the short reprieves and quite often I am unsuccessful. You just can’t hurry grief and need to find out what works for you.
So, you can go to a support group meeting and marvel at how another griever seems so together whose loss is fresher than yours or be dumbfounded by the words of someone a few years or many years ahead of you because you cannot ever imagine being happy again. Oh how I have struggled with this since the grief fog lifted.
Maybe the most important acceptance for me is to accept that no two people grieve the same nor does any person on the planet have a solution to my personal grief. They did not lose Amy or share the same relationship with her that I did. They can empathize and even sympathize with what I may be going through, but they truly do not have a clue what it’s like to live with my reality that my youngest beautiful healthy vibrant child has died. I live with that reality every minute of every day and how could they possibly totally relate to that?
Wherever you find yourself in your grief is unique to who you are and who you lost. This is not a race where we cross the finish line nor do we graduate from grief. While I do have small moments of grace now, total contentment, peace and joy will never be mine again in this lifetime. That seems to be my reality from where I am standing now in my personal prison of grief.
Always remembering Amy.