Matt, since your death, I’ve found that my grief doesn’t keep track of time, people do. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been made to feel like I am the crazy one. Responses from people I hardly know continue to astound me. I can feel my soul start to cringe as soon as I hear “Well it’s been, you should be”. On bad days I just want to slap the shit right out of them. I want them to feel my grief physically as I feel it everyday.
I just can’t understand how society thinks that grief has a time frame. What is it about grieving people that scares people away? Grief is not a disease. Grief is not catchy. Yet, people continue to think that as time goes on grief should let up and finally ride off into the sunset. Like grief has a time table and an automatic shut off switch. Like grief is some sort of mental disorder that should be over and done with in a specific time period.
The problem with grief is it’s tricky. It finds you at unexpected moments. On days I think I’m doing ok it finds me. Days when I fool myself into thinking that society is right. That it’s been and I should be. During Yoga class or lunch with a friend it attacks unexpectedly. The reality that I will never be the old me again, and no matter how hard I try to put up a fight grief always wins. Grief is that monkey on my back. It hides and waits for the right time to show me who is in control.
People think that when you grieve there is something wrong with you. Especially if your grief lasts longer than many think it should. It’s like that acceptable timeframe for dating again after a divorce, grief is supposed to be short lived. After all we all know life goes on.
I get so tired of feeling like there is something wrong with me. Like I’m failing to follow those ridiculous stages of grief made famous by Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross. I studied them in nursing school and bought into her thinking until grief slapped me to the ground with an unimaginable force I’d never known before your death. Even Dr. Ross acknowledged before her own death that grief follows no path of rhyme or reason. Grief ebbs, flows and shatters as it pleases.
I’ve learned that grief is selfish. Not allowing me to think of anything other than my deep pain. It’s like addiction. It changed my brain. I think differently. I act differently. Somedays I really don’t care what people think. I’m struggling to survive this quicksand that surround every step I take. I get tired of defending my grief. For God’s sake, I lost my son. How do I get over that. How does a mother get over saying goodbye to her precious child. Age doesn’t matter. We are not supposed to bury our children. Yet, society continues to think that child loss is something to put away. That we can box up our grief and put it on a closet shelf like old family albums. That grief is something to be controlled.
I am mentally exhausted having to explain over and over again how losing you has shattered the fabric of my life. I try to relate my grief to childbirth. I can tell you how painful it is but until you experience it personally there is no way you could ever understand how intense the pain can become. How this pain takes you away from reality and you scream thinking you will never survive. This is my grief. Silent screams everyday. Screams as I wake and realize that another day is added to the tally of the days since you took your last breaths. Screams as I look at your smiling face in pictures frozen in time. Screams as I attend weddings and baby showers knowing they will never be for you. Screams as I try to be normal as expected by society. Screams as I tell your story to faces that have no clue.
I remember when people were afraid to mention the word cancer. It became the big C. It’s the same thing with grief. Is it becoming the big G? Our culture sees grief as a mess that needs to be cleaned up. I see grief as something that now lives inside my soul.
Grief is not a problem to be solved. Grieving people are not to be shamed, dismissed or judged. Grieving is what mothers do when the natural order of their lives has been altered with the death of their child. I never wanted to know grief as intimately as I do. I never wanted to experience grief brain or constantly question my sanity. I wanted you to live a beautiful life. I wanted to meet your wife and rock your babies. I wanted a reality that wasn’t to be.
I know I will never return to the person I once was. Going back to that person is not an option. She vanished when you did. Gone with your last breath. My grief path is my own. It’s rocky and full of broken glass. I tread lightly on days I can. I crawl through the glass on days when the pain kills and I question my survival. My grief has no finish line. It’s one day, one breath, one scream at a time. My grief is the best I can do. Navigating this path is the most painful thing I’ve ever had to do. One thing I know for sure is I’m not ok. I will never be ok. And for me that just has to be ok…….