I get asked a lot how I am doing and I know some of them are not just a polite, “How are you doing?” but rather a “Dee, my heart hurts for you guys and I want to make it all better for you in some way and I don’t know how. And I really want to make sure you are OK” type of how are you doing? I know by social media appearances I am doing OK. I am getting up every morning and I am getting stuff done. I am posting the successes and the happy moments. But I am not posting how that every morning even if I don’t see it coming, I cry. Or every night, I am sure to have some tears well up. And that there are several times during the day that I am hit with it all and I crumble. I see it in the pictures I take though, in the increasing wrinkles under my eyes, evidence that tears have been there. I’ve started remembering to blot my tears away and not wipe them away. Yes, even in my Grief, I am vain.
I am finding Grief to be very strange. And it doesn’t help that just as my personal world was turned upside down, the world itself was turned upside down. Nothing that one would normally grasp onto to aid in the grief process is attainable. I cannot go out for a cup of coffee and talk with a friend and find comfort there. I cannot take my kids on a much needed get away to find some reprieve from the harsh reality that one of the most important people in their lives is no longer an everyday presence. I do not have my person here to help me process the craziness of what is happening. But what I also find interesting is how my brain sometimes seems to be protecting me from the intensity of it all. Overall I think my brain is telling me, “Not yet,” and I have to admit, this fills me with a bit of apprehension. Afraid of what is coming in terms of my emotions, because they are already raw. I experienced it on Easter. Easter was hard. Very hard. And the reality that I have a year of firsts ahead of me has filled me with dread. Dread of the pain and the hurt that I have no choice but to walk through. The overwhelming responsibility that I have to help my children navigate this in the healthiest way. Perfectly? No. For them? I can’t. But I have talked to enough people who wish that they had known a better way to grieve for their children’s sake. The ones who have reached out to me in love to say, “Hey, I wish I had known.” I am grateful for those dear souls. They have taken their pain and used it to help me avoid some pain. I appreciate their approach too. They don’t tell me what to do, but just share their experiences and let me do with it what I will. I remember a lot of what they have said as I do hard with my kids. Like sneaking up to the mountain that we have memories of camping together on the day that marked 2 months since Jeremy left us, when the dogwoods were in full bloom. We spread some of his ashes at the foot of a lone dogwood tree with a view that I know, that I know, that I know he would have loved. There was comfort in that perfect place, but it was still hard. Hard as I saw my teenage boy struggle with keeping it together, wanting him to know it was ok and he didn’t have to. Or my middle child slightly pull away for a few moments, but come back to make sure I knew I wasn’t alone, me wanting her to understand that she doesn’t have to have that responsibility. Or my youngest, who is a spit fire and behaves like she is ready to take on the world, become so childlike, reminding me how young she actually is. My heart aches for them when I get these glimpses of their Grief. I don’t want them hurting like this. However, I have to accept that this is part of the healing of Grief and unfortunately, we need to walk through it…that by walking through it, it is how we will heal and it won’t hurt so intensely one day.
And we are walking and talking through it. We talk about Jeremy every day, throughout the day. When something pops up with them, I stop and acknowledge it. If we are all together, we all stop. At times, my kids walk into a room and catch me having a moment and ask, “Mom, are you OK? Why are you sad?” And I have to consciously remind myself to not stuff, but yet acknowledge and be honest with them, that despite wanting to protect them from my Grief, what they actually need is for me to show them my Grief to help them understand and process their Grief. They know why I am sad, but I think it helps to hear it. I also reassure them that I am not always going to be this sad. It is just a part of it all.
Grief isn’t simple. It doesn’t always look the way you think it should look and it looks different for each person. There can be similarities but the reality is that each person’s Grief is their own. But one similarity, no questions asked? Grief sucks.