The Depth of My Grief
I have lost count of the days since you left Phillip. This is a good thing. I know that in September it will be two years without you. Your car still sits on the side of the house. Your photos hang in the spare bedroom, carefully dusted and straightened. Your shirts hang in my closet. The grief has settled in my heart, settled into my soul, settled into my bones. The depth of it cannot be measured. I don't have the words to describe the pain I feel.
Grief is Socially Unacceptable
Socially, I have an awareness that I must go on with life. Well meaning friends have brought it to my attention. It is time to move past this they say. Others say there is no time limit for grief. Either way, this is something I can not logic my way out of no matter how much time has past. There is also nothing to DO. No action can remove the pain. Some people advise, just stay active….join a club, write a book, DO something. Yet, nothing I do makes it go away. Grief is constantly hunting me like a predator stalking it's prey….watching, waiting, tracking….just looking for that perfect moment to pounce.
Some people say, just give it time…so each day I get up, eat, work and then at night I fall into bed hoping that when I wake again, the depth of despair will be gone. Time is passing. Even if "I" decide that it has been long enough….I don't really seem to be able to get away from it. I miss my son and my life is forever altered. It reminds me of the term, sea-legs, which is the ability to walk steadily on the deck of a boat or ship. I have not gotten my sea-legs with Phillip's death. How long will it take? I don't know. Some think they have the answer but really no one seems to have the answer, not even me. I think I can decide…based on all the personal growth I have done, that would make sense. I decide about my story, my past, my experiences, my future. Yet, emotionally, the predator stealthily comes up from behind and pounces…so I cry….correction, I sob and allow it to go through me. Eventually it wanes and it leaves me with a sense of emptiness. The sick, burning, pain in my throat diminishes…that is, until next time…but I am always left with a feeling of deep loneliness.
As the Rolling Stones say….I can't get no satisfaction.
My Unhealthy Behavior During Grief
My health has declined. I have gained 30#. My joints ache. I don't move as fast. My clothes don't fit. My brain says….just pull yourself up by the bootstraps, you must go on! Then my body says, screw it…take a nap and have another glass of wine.
Who cares? None of this matters anyway. In another 50 years it is guaranteed that I will be gone and who knows, perhaps I will be gone long before that.
Then my polite self says…you must not talk this way! It is not acceptable.
Apparently, I don't care what is acceptable and not acceptable anymore. I complain more. I have more headaches, allergies and I avoid people. I say things that come to mind. I don't give a shit if they don't like my colorful language or if I will be judged by them….nothing is as bad as the day I got the visit…your son is dead. What else really matters after that? Sometimes anger comes out and sometimes indifference comes out….and my good girl says, hey, you should care. And I don't.
The Rescue Attempt
Friends on Facebook avoid my posts….some have unfriended me. I can't say as I blame them…I am depressed, I am depressing. I have had friends tell me it is the stages of grief….they present it like a grocery list that I can check off.
Others attempt to save me! I just need to go to the gym or eat right or perhaps Yoga will do the trick. Maybe if I talk to a counselor, yes, that will do the trick! There has to be some pixie dust to sprinkle in the right place to get the old Michelle back.
I know they mean well but the rescue attempt is about them needing to save someone more than it is about me needing to be saved. The rescue attempt is about them not feeling comfortable with my grief and about where I am in my life. They must fix this situation as they don't feel right. I visit anger again…. I have found myself apart of an elite club….the dead mothers club. We are drawn to each other like a moth to a flame. We don't have anyone else that can give us the knowing nod like another mother that has gone through the loss of their child. It is a small comfort as they look at us in pity and know where we are in our journey and know what is to come. When I read or hear about a new death, I think, some mother or father is on day one of this fateful journey. The stalking has started for them. I feel tired.
Sleep and Grief.
I don't exercise, eat right or go out much anymore. Work is something I do throw myself into and it helps to make more money but sleep….sleep is the great escape. It is the one thing I look forward to. Each night and sometimes during the day, I look forward to the reprieve of sleep. I dread waking each day as it is like the movie, Groundhog Day. Each day starts again. I awake with a sense of dread. I muddle through the day without much ambition for life and yearn for the moment I get to sleep again. I see my husband doing the same, though he puts on a good game face.
Grief can be Inspiring
People have said that sharing this process with me is inspiring. I don't see how. I don't feel like I am contributing much. It takes all I can muster to breathe through another day. I feel very needy and selfish. I am not focused on anyone but me. I am not even taking care of myself. I am torturing myself. I watch Phillip's videos, I look at photos. I don't sleep well. I cry at the drop of a hat. I have a hard time keeping up with basic maintenance in my life. Most of the time I don't care. There is always that glimmer of human spirit that keeps me breathing.
What a Friend can do
Then there are those friends who look past the pain and see the old me still in there. They don't want to coach me out of it or "fix" me. They simply accept and love me. It isn't about them. It is about compassion and understanding and love as much as they can. They have a realization that this is something I have to go through and it is a tough journey. These are the friends I hold tight to. They allow me to vent, be negative, sad, emotional, and to cry when I want. They don't label it as being negative. They call it being real. They allow me to talk about Phil or not talk about Phil. They don't try to fix me. If they are uncomfortable with it all, they don't show it. They have their own children and they envision life without them for a minute, an hour, a day and they weep with me. They don't see what is going on in my life as my story. They see the grief as a process, a journey that is one of the hardest a human being faces. A journey most would do anything to avoid. A path of pain and suffering. I know that no one will deny my right to suffer. My husband reminds me of this daily. I know it is true and I know he is right and yet I weep. I weep for my son. Coming into manhood, young, handsome and strong.
I do believe logically that I must decide when the suffering ends. I am not there yet. The journey is long. Some journeys take longer than others and sometimes getting through the rough points and the big challenges are the things we look back on and can use to help others. This is what I cling to today…that someday I will be able to give again…that I will be able to look back and see that the journey has become easier and that the challenges were there as opportunities. Opportunities to become more…to allow, to BE….to feel compassion. Nothing I can DO will change anything…so for now, my journey is about being. Oh, and sleep.