Matt, I never wanted to have this personal relationship with grief that I do. I never really thought I would know this heartbreaking, life changing type of grief. I never thought it would become my life partner. I never thought it would become a part of my soul and stay forever in my heart. This grief is like the blood that pumps through my body. It has become part of who I am.
I’ve learned that grief doesn’t keep track of time. Although four years have passed since your death, this grief is as powerful as it was in the very beginning. I’ve learned that the first year is not the hardest. Surviving all those firsts really means nothing. That first year fog protects you like a warm cocoon. It shields you from the reality that life will never be the same. It enables you to continue to breathe, to survive. But it in no way prepares you for what is to come.
I’ve learned that this grief does not soften with the passing of time. I’ve learned there is no escape from those unexpected gut punches. Those powerful, crushing waves continue to knock me off balance just as they did in the very beginning. Time brings with it the harsh reality that this is it. This grief is here to stay. This grief remains as overpowering and relentless showing no signs of letting up. Time continues to march on as years follow dragging me through the next birthday and holiday without you. Dragging me kicking and screaming begging for a short break from the pain of your loss.
I’ve learned there are no stages of grief. I bounce from one emotion to the next without warning. There are no straight set of rules. There is no passing one stage to get to another. No passing go to find peace. Grief is not linear. Grief is a tangled mess. The more you fight the emotions, the tighter it’s grip becomes on your heart. Grief is anxious and dirty. Grief is losing control in the blink of an eye. Grief is a trigger that hits like an explosion in your head and heart. Grief is the mess your life becomes after losing a child.
I’ve learned grief never sleeps. She’s there lurking in every corner waiting to pounce as soon as she feels your vulnerability surface. Grief grabs you as soon as you awaken and follows you through your day. Like a lost pup she nips at your heels. Tiny bites with a sharpness that can’t be ignored. Grief follows as you close your eyes to rest. She comes in those haunting memories, the what if’s, the I should have’s, the why’s. Grief is a 24/7 animal.
I’ve learned that grief can partner with guilt. Adding regret for things done, said, not done and not spoken. She teams up with so many powerful emotions that leaves the heart and soul spinning out of control. Grief is a constant reminder of reality. Grief continues to beat you down until you are battered and bruised. Grief however long she’s been in your life will continue to take your breath away.
I’ve learned that grief will shake your beliefs about God. I questioned why he allowed you to die. I questioned why my prayers of keeping you safe were ignored. I questioned where God was when you were taking your last breaths. I questioned where he is now. I’ve learned that without God I would never have survived your death. I’ve learned that God is quiet and I need to let him be in control. I’ve learned that what happened in your life and at the time of your death was between you and God. I’ve learned to talk to God like he is a friend not always in a prayer but like he is standing beside me. I’ve learned that if I open myself up to signs they will be there.
I’ve learned that I will never be the same woman. The eyes looking back at me show a profound sadness. I’ve learned that I have an inner strength I never knew existed. I fear nothing. I’ve learned never to take life for granted. I appreciate the sunrise, the birds singing, the warmth of a winter sun. I look at life through a different lens. I judge less. I’ve learned everyone is living through something hidden behind the masks we wear.
I’ve learned that living with grief is not for the faint of heart. I’ve learned my grief has a life of it’s own. I know there is no escape. I’ve learned my grief must be accepted and acknowledged. My grief is as powerful as my love was and remains for you. I’ve learned not to fight when the waves hit. I must allow the grief to wash over me knowing that my life will always be vulnerable to those little things that bring you back to me.