Grief hits hard...
I thought I'd eventually get a break in my grief journey. Eventually. I was starting to finally feel normal, like I wasn't a broken shell of a person. My life is good. Then I got a phone call on June 24th, one phone call, when I was sharing a joke with my daughter and walking her to the truck to take her to her first day of school. A phone call that gave me a panic attack - one I hadn't felt in at least three years.
My grief journey started when I was 14, and my great grandmother died. That gutted me. It was the first time I realized how death affected everyone around me. I didn't quite understand it when I lost my grandfather and great grandfather before her. This was real to me, and it hurt. It was reality sinking in.
I can still hear my mom's scream when she got the phone call about her Uncle, when I was 23. I was stunned that the hilarious string-bean of a man that told me to fly a kite was gone. His passing changed every family party for a long time, but I see him everywhere.
When my Pop-Pop died a month before my wedding, when I was 24, I felt numb. I instantly knew my life would never be the same. I didn't think I could miss anyone as much as I would him...
My mom died when I was 26, and pregnant. I wasn't ready for that. And it took me years to find a way to deal with my pain. I still have hard moments, nine years later, but that was a pain I didn't expect. It's a pain I can never forget.
A friend of mine died by suicide when I was 32. That was my children's first brush with death... And with it came so many conversations, more awareness about those around us. I still miss his laugh and his jaunty wave. It still hurts. I miss my friend and what could have been for our families.
My husbands grandparents died in the same year, six months apart. That year I turned 34. Their passing's broke all our hearts. I didn't know how to bring comfort to my family. I was just there to help anyway that I could. You would think, having been through so much death (and grief) of my own, I'd be able to say and do the right things - I'm the worst at it...
My dad died almost two months ago. At the age of 36, I feel like I'm an orphan. My tears fall everyday, and I can't stop asking 'WHY?' I hurt, physically from this one. It's just not right... My heart broke. For myself, for the plans we had, for my family, for everything that didn't get to happen. So many unanswered questions, and so many memories I'll never get to talk to him about again. Yes this is a fresh pain, one I don't really want to process, but I know I'll have to.
GRIEF HITS HARD. At the most random times. I don't just cry about my dad. I cry for every single person in this post. I cry for the people I didn't really know, but knew once upon a time. I cry for my friends who are traveling this same awful journey.
One thing that works for me, that I can pass on to others, is that you have to travel the grief journey in your own way, at your own pace. You'll want to fight it, ignore it, deny it's affecting you. But at the end of the day, it's still with you, and you do have to do what works for you to get through the waves until the next one hits.
It'll be memories, a song, something someone says in passing, a nice looking truck that drives by, a pastime you love, a movie, a picture, a moment - that's what will hit you like a brick wall and make you crumble. Grief will hit when you are folding clothes or washing dishes, not really thinking about anything in particular. It just hits, and she hits hard.
I used to hide my tears. I used to bottle it up and wait until late at night, when nobody could see me and have full on panic attacks. I try not to do that anymore. If I feel it, if I need to express it, I let it out. I'm careful around my kids, because my breakdowns can trigger theirs. But I don't hide anymore. I let myself cry. I let my kids cry and express their feelings to me. It's a very therapeutic way for us to talk, honestly. And if it weren't for my kids, I don't think I could have found these coping mechanisms to make it through the pain.
When Grief hits you hard, please do not take it as a step back in your healing process. I don't know when the grief starts to get easier, it's different for EVERYBODY. But I know that you'll handle it better than you used to. It does not mean that you're all the way back at square one, it just means you feel very strongly still for the loved one that's no longer here.
Take those heartbreaking moments and feel. Cry, scream, get mad... But please remember the person you are grieving. Remember something they used to say to comfort you, remember something they taught you, embrace who they were to you. Maybe you'll gather some strength for the next grief wave.
That's what I do.
We've got some amazing angels walking beside us today, we'll get through the grief. We'll always feel it though. I want to feel it. I don't ever want to forget the amazing people I loved so much that I still cry for years later because of missing them. They were that important to me.
Yes, grief hits hard. You will find ways to cope with it. It's not a step back, it's just a reminder that you loved very deeply for someone you miss terribly.
I tell my kids every time they talk to me about a loved ones that left this world to soon. "They are always in you heart. They are with you every step of the way. They are your angels, watching out for you. Maybe you'll see a sign from them that they are with you. Talk to them, pray to them, think about them. They are in your heart, forever."