Monday, September 26, 2011

Day 97: Grief and Gratitude

"Death leaves a heartache no one can heal, love leaves a memory no one can steal." ~ From a headstone in Ireland

Grief is your response to loss and is such a diverse and profound thing. No two people grieve the same way or about the same things. There's no right way or wrong way to grieve. You have to learn to do what is best for you.

We all experience grief in some form, whether it be from the loss of a pet, loss at a ballgame, loss of a friend who no longer speaks to you, loss of a job, divorce, loss of your sense of self due to a violent crime or the death of a loved one. There are innumerable types of loss.

What happens when the loss is so profound that it affects you not only on an emotional level but on a physical, behavioral, social and philosophical level?

When Rich died, the loss was so great I simply could not function. It felt as if all of that pain became sandpaper on my skin, rubbing and rubbing and rubbing until I was nothing but a raw and bloody soul. Memories felt like alcohol being poured on the wounds from which there was no escape. At times, I physically could not breathe. To make matters worse, I was left with a ton of questions for which I'd never get the answers regarding him. I also would never understand what would possess Dean, at the age of 22, to take his own life a mere two weeks later and in such a violent way when he had so much to live for. Here was a kid, who called me "Madre", who had decided he simply could not live with the pain of his life any more while telling everyone he was coming over to my house. It left the rest of us reeling and I found out just how staggering the level of anguish your heart can endure.

Until you have experienced such a loss and pain, you can never understand what someone else is going through. I used to think I knew - I was wrong. Until the deaths of Dean and Rich, I truly did not even come close to comprehending. You struggle with your pain and are astonished that the world continues on around you. You feel like shouting for everyone to stop! How could they continue on with their days when your life has been so utterly destroyed?

Part of me just felt like I was hollow - the need to just be numb, to escape from it for just a bit was almost welcomed relief. However, the only way to truly get past the pain and grief is to go through it. There are no detours on this journey. If you cry, you might begin to wonder if there will ever come a day where you don't shed those tears. If you don't cry, you wonder if you'll ever start to cry.

If you are grieving, please remember to forgive people for the things they say to you during this time. They will say some of the most amazing things to you and are usually not something you want or need to hear. They truly mean well - it is just they are so uncomfortable with the emotions of grief they don't know how to help. I remember telling a friend how such events had profoundly changed me to my core - on what I believed and what I expected from life. So much so that I would be forever changed. That person thought saying "No, you are still you. You just lost someone in your life, that's all, not yourself. You are still you," would be the right thing to say and even went on to argue the point. Soooooo not what I needed to hear at the time. I realize now they were saying things out of their own fear because they had no idea of how to deal with the emotions I was showing.

Others will do everything they can to truly help. My friend Darren, bless his heart, just listened to me wail and cry my heart out on the phone while downing a bottle Gentlemen Jack until I passed out. My sons scraped me off the living room floor and tucked me safely onto the sofa, wrapping me up in soft blankets without leaving my side. I let everyone see me at my absolute worst. Others will do what Tim did: let you talk when you need it and let you stay silent when you need it while offering the reassurance to take what comfort you need and leave the rest.

This process of grief takes a while to get through and the length of time is different for everyone. The challenge is to let the memories of things that hurt so very much become moments that make you smile. Learn to cherish the fact that you had shared such things with someone else and strive not get too comfortable with the pain of it all. If you don't learn to let go of the pain and embrace the fact that you have some wonderful memories, you become a victim instead of a survivor.

Which will you be?

Gratitude:
  • Monday Night Football: I absolutely LOVE sports and football season is no different! This year I joined a Fantasy Football League without letting the guys at work know it is me. I want to see how I do and I don't know how they'd take it if a girl, who happens to work in their Human Resources department, did well. LOL! Tonight's game solidified my 4th place in the league so far. Not to0 shabby! This week I picked 12 winning teams out of 16 games! :)
  • Dinners with all of my kids: TJ moved out last year and now Toast is talking about moving in with him. These dinners may become rarer and rarer so for now I'll soak it all up when the chance arrives.
  • Friends: I love my friends. They are wonderful and my life would not be the same without them.
  • Music: It soothes my heart and soul.


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