A scar. Every scar has a story, but the scar from grief is not visible, so the story is not usually either. And a scar from grief is difficult to obtain, unless you allow the open wound to become a scar.
It looks like it’s just a word. 5 little letters put together to form a word. It’s just a word……..Unless you’re going through it, it’s so much more than just a word.
You can’t see it,
you can’t touch it,
but you sure can FEEL it.
And when you’re going through it, the feeling can be absolutely helpless.
Accepting the CHANGE is the hardest.
Your first response may be to absolutely shut down.
You may choose to not talk about it at all.
You even appear to have yourself together, yet you’re crumbling inside.
You may feel distant from friends.
You may think friends don’t care about you.
You may even think friends don’t want to be around you.
It’s been 18 months since my mom died, and almost 5 years since my dad died. And not a day goes by where they don’t enter my thoughts. I didn’t watch them suffer, I lost them both suddenly to two totally different illnesses. My father to depression and my mother to undiagnosed breast cancer. I’m not sure which is worse, watching someone suffer or being told of their immediate death. I don’t really feel like one is worse than the other, they both suck!
But both times, after they passed, I remember being completely numb initially. I went about my daily routines, never fully accepting that they were gone. I found myself walking through the rooms of my home, taking a deep gasp of air, in sudden disbelief and reminding myself…………. I would NEVER, ever see them again.
My friends would ask you if I was OK and my immediate response was YES, I’m fine…….. What else was I supposed to say? So I would go about my days, with my game face on, never talking about it, feeling sorry for myself, watching other people with their loved ones that they haven’t lost, and then I would start to get angry.
Angry at everything.
Angry at the what ifs,
angry at my mom and dad,
angry at the illnesses that took them,
angry at my spouse for no reason,
angry at my kids for no reason,
angry at my dirty house,
angry at the people around me that aren’t asking me anymore how I’m feeling,
angry at the garbage can overflowing,
angry at the sink full of dishes,
angry at the room full of toys,
angry at the laundry piles,
angry at the little things that used to not bother me.
Everything seems to build up and be so much worse than ever. Because I have this one demon inside of me that consumes my every single thought. GRIEF. That 5 letter word.
I remain strong around people,
around my kids,
around my husband,
but the minute I am alone, which is very rare, I break down…..every. single. time.
Without fail, when I drop my little guy off at preschool, I break down in the parking lot, in my car, alone for a few minutes twice a week.
And I never allow myself to be weak enough to tell anyone this. And I think having the strength to go through each day covering it up is what I need to do. So I do it. It just seems easier to do that.
And months go by and even years, and it seems to get worse. When everyone tells me that time heals all, I feel like time is making it worse, and to be honest, I want to tell them to just shut up. I want this statement to be true so badly but it just isn’t. People will also try to tell you they understand and they remember being sad when their grandmother died or when their 97 year old great Uncle died or even their dog. And, really, come on? That’s not fair. But honestly, they are just trying to relate. When really, they can’t. They don’t know that that what they are saying is hurting you even more. They are just trying to comfort you, when really it’s making it worse.
I have had a few people say, “I don’t know what you are going through, and it must be so hard. I am so sorry”. I think this is the ABSOLUTE best thing that you can say. Because you know what, you really don’t. Unless you are in the EXACT situation as someone with death, you really do not know. And even if you lost both parents, you still don’t know. It depends on the relationship you had with your parents. And my relationship with mine was indescribable! I sometimes wish it wasn’t so good. Maybe it would be easier.
I was so close with both of them, probably more so my dad. And when he passed, my mom and I got even closer, bonding over the grief we both shared losing him. And then when I lost her, I didn’t have her to lean on. So I felt alone. And my only survival was to cover it up. Like an open wound, just put a bandage on it!
Death is like a wound
Grief feels like a wound trying to scab over and eventually heal. Although the scab constantly breaks open and starts bleeding again. There seems to be no Neosporin to help this wound go away completely. And all I want it to do to it is make it become a scar yet it continues to be an open wound. So, I try to keep a bandage on it by keeping my game face on, yet that wound is still there underneath, bleeding all over that bandage. By keeping it covered up with the bandage, it’s never going to get better. And I’m slowly realizing this.
I’m slowly learning to peel off the bandage and allow my wound to bleed without covering it up.
I’m finding that it’s helping.
No instruction manual
You see, grief has no timeline, and we all experience it differently. But there are a few things that I’ve learned years later that I wish I learned earlier. But, I believe it’s one of those things that you just learn as you go. You can’t tell someone how or when they are going to feel the feels. There’s no right or wrong, there’s no timeframe, no instruction manual, there’s no same as someone else, you just have to take grief as it comes to you.
A new normal
The first thing I’ve learned is that I have to come to grips with the fact that I have a new NORMAL. What does the word normal even mean.
THE definition of normal– conforming to a standard; usual, typical, or expected
Well I can tell you what it used to mean to me, and now I’m learning that it’s going to mean something entirely different. To me that is. Everyone has a different normal. No one’s normal is ever the same.
And once you realize that your normal has changed to a different normal, it brings a little bit of peace. Even though you don’t like this new normal, it must be your new normal.
Death has no blame
Another thing I’ve learned to stop doing is blaming other people. If you want to change, YOU have to change yourself. YOU have to do something about it. Don’t wait for other people to talk to you about it, TELL them you want to talk about it.
It’s very easy for friends, spouses, other family members, to just NOT talk about it anymore. But it’s not up to them to bring it up, it’s up to YOU. You have to be the one to tell them that you want to talk about it. If you don’t, it is only going to consume you. Your bandage will just continue to stay on. So, get it out so that it doesn’t stay bottled up.
Tools to help you
Of course there are some things that you can do along the way to help you.
Get involved in something that you absolutely love doing.
Pay it forward, do something nice for other people.
Find a new passion and allow your strengths to come out through that.
If you’re not ready to talk to someone, which I highly recommend doing, do something that allows you to get your feelings out.
Write in a journal,
talk to the person that you’ve lost,
write them a letter,
type them a letter,
talk to them in the middle of your home,
sit in front of the mirror and talk to them,
send them an email,
send them a Facebook message,
whatever you do, do something.
Don’t keep the feelings that you have and that you want to say to them bottled up.
We must keep living
When you are ready to talk to someone, do it.
See a counselor,
talk to a best friend,
talk to the deceased’s best friend,
talk to your family,
talk to your children,
and most importantly talk to your spouse.
Don’t apologize for feeling the way you feel, just open up and tell them why you have been acting different, tell them your feelings, tell them of your struggles.
Don’t wait for them to talk to you. They just don’t know when you’re ready. And it’s not up to them. You’re only jeopardizing your own relationships by waiting.
And one of the most important things that I’ve come to realize is that the empty spot that I feel every single day is OK. That empty spot is a space in my heart that is left to be filled with the love and the memories of the two people that I have lost. And instead of keeping that spot empty I need to keep filling it by talking about the memories and talking about them!
Don’t expect anyone to understand
And you certainly can’t understand it unless you’re going through it yourself. And no two people go through the same type. No matter what. Going through grief is a tricky thing.
The fact that it’s not tangible,
you can’t see it,
you can’t touch it,
makes it so difficult to understand.
Find the strength to be weak
From my experience, finding the strength to allow myself to be WEAK was the most difficult thing for me. And continues to be on a daily basis.
So let go,
……..and tell your friends and family how you are feeling.
Tell them that you feel bad for shutting them out,
tell them that you feel bad for hiding,
tell them that you feel bad that you haven’t been yourself.
You have nothing to hide. This is a process, and if you tell them, they will know.
Feeling good takes serious effort:
Don’t listen to anyone or anything that tries to offer you something cheap fast and easy.
Grief is a process!
Everyone will go through it at their own pace.
Don’t put a timeframe on it, and don’t keep it covered up.
When you are ready to tear the bandage off, do it.
Even when you don’t think you are ready, let that wound start to air dry. And start talking about your lost loved one(s).
Keep the spirit and the memories alive.
It’s the only way you will ever Create your Scar from Grief.
Message me if you would like to talk more about grief, I would love to help you and get through it together.