So there I was sitting on the front porch of my house. The sun had just come up. I could not understand how cars could still drive down the street or how the sun could still shine or the wind blow. It was not making a whole lot of sense to me. The world should have stopped. I mean, this was the end.
Well, I wrote about four more pages. It was just a lot of pain and suffering and rambling. If you have ever read anything in this blog it should come across that I am very task and goal oriented. That is how I confronted this – I read the books about the all of the stages in the grief process (depending on the book there can be 5, 7 and even 10 steps) and made objectives and timelines. You know, I do love the self help section at the library. Well, I learned a lot – the grieving process is not linear. There is ebb and flow – one day you might be on step 4 and then slide back to step 2 for months.
1. Denial and Isolation.However, just because you write down what needs to be done and you do it – and this is the kicker – it does not mean you were successful. You have to really experience the steps, feel the steps, and understand what you are going through. It is not black and white. I hate to say it but you must embace the grief – let the pain wash over you. I have met so many people that have never been able to made peace. They are stuck in steps one or two for decades. They never make it out. They become ruined. I could not let that happen to me. I could not betray my wife and daughter.
At first, we tend to deny the loss has taken place, and may withdraw from our usual social contacts. This stage may last a few moments, or longer.
The grieving person may then be furious at the person who inflicted the hurt (even if she's dead), or at the world, for letting it happen. He may be angry with himself for letting the event take place, even if, realistically, nothing could have stopped it.
Now the grieving person may make bargains with God, asking, "If I do this, will you take away the loss?"
The person feels numb, although anger and sadness may remain underneath.
This is when the anger, sadness and mourning have tapered off. The person simply accepts the reality of the loss.
So, I used to fall down a lot. In fact I fell down all of the time. And when I fell I stayed down for a long time. As time went on I fell less often and got up quicker. It was funny the things that would knock you down. I could prepare for the big dates. I would plan ahead and brace for them. But it was the little things that hurt the worst. You would catch a faint smell or see a favorite color or a voice. That is when you would just lose it. You would fall down into that pit of despair. That was the worst place. Most of the time I just felt empty but that despair - that one was tough.
Anyway, while I can’t say I am never down - it is few and far between and it is on my terms. I also love the line “You can’t knock me down – I’m either up or in the process of getting up!” I truly believe that I am at step 5 which is Acceptance (sometimes I can and will slide back). I am at peace and I am thankful of the time that I had with these wonderful people.
Opening up about this has been on my to-do-list for the last couple of years. But like I said - just because I have completed the task does not mean I was successful. I had a good friend email this question – “Does it feel better or worse or the same after writing and sharing with the world?”
I responded, “I was hoping for a weight to be lifted off of my shoulders. Well, that did not happen but I hope that I can now be myself. I felt like I was somehow betraying myself – not being able to say things. Just having to be guarded all of the time. At least I should be able to get over that – if I can figure out who I really am.
We will just have to see. Right now I just feel so very vulnerable. It is like I have a really bad sunburn. I am walking around trying not to touch the walls and hoping someone does not slap me on the back.
In the grand scheme of things I truly believe that it will be positive but here and now in the short term it is a risk. It was very cathartic to get it down on paper. I can see how I have grown in the last couple of years.”
Don’t worry, we will get back to regularly scheduled programming soon (Running from Demons and Overtraining). After all, this blog is not called Grief 101, or Tri’n for grief, or even Tri’n and Cry’n (although that is a good one).
I’m still a proud father – I’m just showing off now –
5-years-feels-like-blink-of-eye - part 1
5-years-continued - part 2
5-years-continued-thank-you-all-so-much - part 4