It finally happened, the thing my grief counselor warned me about. I was in a local pub with a couple of friends and one of them said, “I’ve been reading your blog . . . don’t you think it might be time to move on?”
From my brother’s death, is what he meant.
The question didn’t surprise me – my friend is definitely not a “feeler” when it comes to personality types, and he’s not one to intentionally process his emotions. Like many people, he sees “bad” emotions like grief as troubles to be overcome, wrestled to the ground.
I, on the other hand, am an off-the-charts feeler who firmly believes that uncomfortable emotions are meant to impart life lessons. They are spiritual teachers, and we should sit with them and listen to them.
In my experience, if psychic pain isn’t fully processed, it comes back as depression, anxiety, anger, or – in the case of my dear departed brother – death.
Living in the Land of Grief
What that processing entails and how long it takes is unique to every individual and to every loss. Nevertheless, my grief counselor told me that at some point, someone would probably decide on my behalf that it was time for me to “move on.”
So I had to smile when my friend used that exact phrase.
I can’t remember what I said to him, if anything, but the answer to his question is: No – it is not time to “move on” or “get over it.” That’s not what happens. Ever. A major loss will gradually become a part of you; you adjust. You do not get “finished” with grief.
It’s like learning a new language in a new country. You will, over time, get used to it and function fairly normally. But it’s still a different country than the one you used to live in.
Bottom line: stuffing my feelings doesn’t work for me anymore, so I won’t be pretending that I’m “over” my brother’s death. If you’re uncomfortable with that, simply don’t read my blogs tagged grief, even if they are brilliantly written and sometimes maybe a little funny.
Six Month Check-in
It has been six months now. I have little memory of the first three months, except for a great fear of losing my mind because that’s what my mother’s death did to my brother. I was relieved to find that several others in my grief support group shared that fear. That’s mostly gone now, thank God.
When I try to analyze or control my grief, to tell it what it “should” be doing now, I still experience anxiety.
If I get too busy or spend too much time with others and don’t take time for rest and reflection and writing, I find that the tears come rushing back as soon as I’m alone. Pacing myself is key to recovery.
I’m still having trouble doing the things that need to be done: lawyer crap, social security and medical bill crap, house cleaning crap. Crap, crap, crap.
Sometimes I’m angry at Biff, at God, at life. At crap. But in general, I’m doing OK. I am feeling better, not worse.
Write, Cry, Celebrate
I will continue to write about grief when I need to because it helps me, and because I hope that it might help others who are grieving to know that they are not alone.
I want you to know that it’s OK to talk about your grief. Talking and talking is an important part of the healing process. Don’t feel that you are a burden — just make sure you choose safe people who won’t judge. There’s no right or wrong. If someone doesn’t understand, don’t share your grief with them. Simple as that. Your journey is unique. But it does help to have company, so find a support group if you can.
Write about it. Cry if you need to.
Celebrate when little things get back on track. I can now go to the grocery store without losing it. This is big. Sometimes I can listen to music.
Six months is nothing, really, when you’re putting your soul back together, but every day is a small victory.