Here is a recent journal entry about my experience with this ongoing grief process. I've heard grief described as a parallel life. This is my take on it.
journal: They don’t want to hear it. They don’t really want to know what I’m going thru. If they really knew they would not know what to do, and they would feel more helpless than they already feel, more inadequate, more tongue-tied. But not knowing what to say is okay. Really. If only they would just acknowledge the fire, that it’s burning, that it’s hot, that they can see me in the middle of it, barely protected, almost consumed. I can only imagine that this is something like childbirth, or what I think it would be like—a pain that cannot be endured except for the fact that not to feel it would ensure death.
Would I die if I didn’t feel this pain? No, but to die, sometimes it seems better, not because of a reunion, or an eternity, or an incarnation, but because it would stop. It. The pain, the emptiness, would stop. It is a constant ache that attacks so many sides I cannot defend myself.
Where are my friends? They call and ask me how I am doing, sometimes. They talk about their lives, their problems, and don’t even mention him, as if I don’t want to talk about him anymore. I want to be a good friend, so I listen, but they are watching my life from at least the same distance that I am watching theirs, a distance that protects them from the fire almost consuming me. A distance that allows them to keep living their own lives, like they are supposed to do. At the end of the day, I respect whatever they need to do to keep on living, even if it doesn’t include me.
Where are his friends? They are working, parenting, and riding their bikes, challenging themselves to be better, faster, stronger for their next race or event. They are living, and maybe even grieving still, in their own way. At the end of the day, I respect whatever they need to do to keep on living, even if it doesn’t include me.
But for me, at the end of the day, even after an exhilarating bike ride or time with friends, often I find myself on the couch with a plate of fattening foods and a glass of wine to cushion my thoughts, my memories, as they fall randomly through my fingers like grains of sand. Struggling to catch every grain, every memory, every thought, every anger, every love, every touch, every everything, tears fall impatiently, angrily, sadly, yearningly. I don’t know if I cry because of what I do catch or because of what falls between my fingers. There is so much to catch. There is so much that falls. I guess I should be thankful that there is so much to catch, and that I even notice that which falls. But there is no one to see it or appreciate it. No one but me. It’s in this moment of what is caught and not caught, this moment when the sand rests on my fingers or falls below, that only I appreciate the value our life together. It is a moment crowded with aloneness.
Is this a gift? Is it a curse?
This life within a life that only I can live, is it something I should beg others to share, or just relinquish my hope of others joining me and understand that this grief is mine alone? No one else can bare it. No one else can own it. No one else can understand it, or experience it like I experience it.
I don’t want this specialness, where only I can understand my pain, my emptiness. I don’t want this aloneness where it feels like only I can be my friend. I am too weak for that, but even in this weakness my strength seems to be enough to get me out of bed each day, enough to smile, to do at least a little exercise, paperwork, yardwork, or housework, and to look okay. I look okay and say that I’m okay to everyone who asks. Sometimes I say that it’s hard, but I’m okay. They look relieved, as if I just said that everything is back to normal.
So, at what point do I admit to drowning in this sorrow? To drowning in grief? To drowning in memories? Would anyone even hear my confession? I don’t admit these thoughts to others because they might think I’m weak, pitiful. Logically, I know that it only feels like I am drowning. It only feels like grief will kill me. I am well acquainted with depression and its oceans of desert, and I have learned that the cycles of feeling nothing and then everything at once does not have to overcome me or control me, even when it feels like it. So, if I cling to what I know, I must believe that this grief will not suffocate me, even when the weight of his body in memories rests upon my chest.
In spite of this drowning feeling, at the end of the day, I want to gasp for air and find air. I want to breathe and find another breath, no matter how painful it might be, because breath is life and life is purpose. Life, alone, must be enough reason for me to live, whether I’m walking through depression or through grief, or both. I want there to be a special reason why I am still here, even if I never understand why he is not. Just finding air every few seconds is my opportunity to find reason in spite of the loss, in spite of the pain. Even if I never understand why he died, and I probably won’t, I know many reasons why he lived, one of them being his gift of love to me.
This life within a life….it is different. It is ugly and very confusing right now, but I must consider the possibility, just the possibility, that all life has value, even the life of grief. I must protect it, nurture it, and seek to understand its wisdom.
This life within a life is my life, and everything is growing around it exponentially in comparison, yet this grief, this life within a life, is growing, too, a growth only I can see. A life only I can experience at my own pace. And at the end of the day, when my living room is crowded with my grief and me, how blessed am I to have the privilege of drowning in an ocean of beautiful memories—memories that are mine, alone, as long as I live.