The thing about grief that I can see, is there really isn’t much to look forward to in the process. If you’re pregnant and sick, you know that it will all be over in nine months. If you have a cold or a headache, you might take something for it and hope that it goes away.
I’m only seven weeks in to the grief process, and from all accounts, including mine, the first few months are crap and then with time, it’s only ever going to get less crap.
The loss is forever. It’s the job of the grieving process to get your head around the loss and learn to live with it. I’m guessing that at some point, as the acute grief subsides, I might be interested in life again, but as a different person. Sadder and different.
Right now, I can’t separate the loss from the grief and it feels like they’ll both last forever.
I’ve been reading about grief and talking to people who know it. I understand that the first few weeks after Mum’s death involved some sort of denial or buffer of disbelief that allowed me to function through the following weeks. We’re equipped with a defence mechanism to soften the blow.
But that can’t last forever and it was four weeks later when a pain so deep and with a magnitude beyond words slammed denial out of the way and made itself at home.
In my mind and in my heart.
It causes actual physical pain in my head and chest and lets other emotions have only a brief turn at the forefront before smacking them out of the way and proceeding to suffocate.
Guilt, sadness, joy and peace have all had a turn.
I always loved and admired my mum’s hands. Her olive skin, her slender fingers and the shape of her nails. The tendons and the visible raised blood vessels on the backs of her hands, just like my own. Since her death I have been wearing her rings. I love the rings themselves, but more than that, they remind me of my mum’s hands, and they remind me of my parents’ love for each other, and the calm and loving home they created for us.
One evening last week, anger had its turn. I wanted to take off Mum’s rings and lay them gently to rest on a velvety surface. And then I wanted to smash my knuckles into the sharp, jagged brickwork around our fireplace.
I’ve been wanting to find a road map for grief. I want to know the clear set of steps or stages that I have to go through to get through this pain. But there is no road map. All I can find out is that its different for everyone.
So if I can’t have a road map, can I at least have an end date to look forward to? No. And there are no shortcuts either. From what I can understand, grief is a natural, difficult and individual process. So personal it feels as if no-one can do anything to help.
Knowing that loss is an inevitable part of life doesn’t make it any easier.
And while resilient is the last word I’d choose to describe how I’m feeling right now, knowing that other people have overcome their losses proves that we are, in fact, resilient.
The magnitude of our pain is directly proportional to how much we loved and were loved.
We included in the order of service at Mum’s funeral, a quote from Winnie the Pooh:
How lucky am I to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.
Thanks Mum. xx