The Waves of Grief

The one thing I’ve learned on this grief journey of mine, is that there are always good days and bad days. Fortunately, the bad days are fewer with more time in between them. When Steve first died, I thought I would never feel good again. Every part of my body ached with a physical longing that felt a lot like the flu. My chest hurt when I breathed as if there was a weight sitting on top of me. I had to force myself to eat because I felt nauseous and food was tasteless. Showering took an enormous amount of strength and I would feel like laying down to sleep after exerting so much energy.

Now, seven years later, I have more good days than bad. When I have a true “grief day,” it catches me by surprise. It’s usually a holiday or anniversary of some sort (the last one was on Steve’s birthday in September) and my grief can render me useless. It’s as if he just died all over again. I am unable to stop crying, don’t feel like eating and it takes all of my energy to get out of bed. I am always surprised by the amount of pain I feel on these grief days, although you would think I’d be used to it by now.

I’ve learned to be gentle with myself and to allow the waves of grief to hit me every once in a while. When I do, I am able to recover from them faster and the grief doesn’t seem to linger past a day or two. If I fight the grief, and don’t allow myself to feel it, the bad feelings last much longer. It’s as if I need to cry it all out so that I can keep moving forward and feeling good. If I don’t let it out, then my body just holds onto the grief.

Sometimes, when I know that a particularly rough anniversary is coming, I will purposely plan something that will put me into a better frame of mind. I will allow myself to be sad without being swallowed up inside the wave of grief. For Father’s Day, I focus on my children and our tradition of sending balloons up to Heaven. Each of us write a letter to Steve (or draws a picture) and we put them into the balloons before we let them go. It is healing for me to write to him and then watch that letter ascend into the sky. I always feel sad on Father’s Day but our ritual allows me to honor him and then move on with my day. I try to make Father’s Day about my children, not about missing their dad. Writing the letter keeps me from stuffing my feelings so that I am able to keep moving forward.

 I went to a funeral service today for a friend of mine. When his widow spoke about her love and how he was her best friend, I was taken back to that awful day in October of 2004 as I said goodbye to Steve at his funeral. I was sobbing today and I’m sure some people thought I was crazy since I wasn’t that close to the man who died! It was a wave of grief that came over me because I saw myself in that widow.

The good news is that I was able to recover from the wave and move on with the rest of my day. Seven years ago, that wave would have completely immobilized me. Perhaps I am healing after all?

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6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Colleen Bohn
    Nov 29, 2011 @ 19:06:37

    Hi Mary, what beautiful words you write…

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  2. Danielle
    Nov 29, 2011 @ 23:05:22

    I enjoyed catching up on your blog tonight. I am sure it is cathartic to write, but it is also beautiful for us to read. It is a good reminder not to take anything for granted. Keep writing!

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  3. Rhonda
    Nov 30, 2011 @ 14:38:14

    You should be so proud of the way you have carried yourself over the years since Steve’s passing. You are a terrific Mom and such an inspiration to those of us who take life so for granted, but could be in the same situation in the blink of an eye. I sent April your link and I hope she gets the opportunity to read your writings. Thanks for being so open and honest about what its really like to lose a loved one. April is so blessed to have you in her life. Wish she could see you more.

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