I’ve been thinking a lot about grief lately — mainly because I haven’t had a choice. I’m watching my family, in real time, face one of our biggest battles ever. Ever.
Life. Has Slowed. All. The. Way. Down.
On Monday, I was out of commission with a temperature of 101 and chills. Today was my first day feeling somewhat like myself again. As I sat quarantined in my home office, this dreadful visitor randomly appeared out of nowhere. Grief. He came uninvited, and for the first time, I paused to acknowledge its presence.
In the past, I’ve avoided it. Partly because I wanted to, but mainly because I had to. You know — for sanity’s sake.
Grind. Grind. Grind.
Hustle. Hustle. Hustle.
I’d rather be tired from the busyness than to deal with my sorrows any day.
I don’t know what was different about today, but ghosts of the past surrounded me while I sat unsuspectingly on the couch. They stared me in the face, and dared me to look away. I didn’t. I stared back.
Not too many people know that I loss a child late in my first trimester. I’ll never forget how excited I was the first time I heard the baby’s heartbeat, nor will I forget how utterly, heartbroken I was the next visit when the heartbeat was no longer there. I’ll never forget the concerned look on the sonographer’s face when she told me to “wait just a minute” because she was “having trouble finding the baby’s heartbeat,” and that “my doctor could help.” I was twenty-seven at the time, and naive to the many woes women face.
I watched the doctor grab the transducer and try for what seemed like forever, but was probably only a couple of minutes.
I watched him sit down in a slow motion on that classic moon-pie-looking-chair that all doctor’s offices have. He rolled forward, and grabbed my right hand in-between the cusp of his. I just remember his hands being cold. Very cold.
He told me that there was no heartbeat before going into specific detail about the procedure that had be done to remove it. He asked about my support system and sat a little taller when I told him that I had my mom and sister around.
I sat up like a zombie. Numb. Feeling and unfeeling at the same time.
The operation came and went, but everything else was a blur. I remember going home, laying on the couch and crying. There was no wail. There weren’t any moans. It was just me lifelessly staring at a tv screen, as tears trickled down my face. One. By. One. Slow——-ly.
I didn’t know it then, but I know it now as grief.
A deep, dark sorrow that all but swallowed me whole.
I took a few days off of work, but by that 4th or 5th day, I decided that I needed to keep my mind busy. I got up, got dressed and headed in to teach….children. Now, granted they were older, but they were still children nonetheless.
I’m not sure if you caught what I said, but I said that I decided that I needed to keep my mind busy. I didn’t say that I needed to get my mind healthy. So, I did what a lot of people do in the midst of their grief. I told people that I was okay when I was not. I smiled to cover up the pain. I piled on new responsibilities and projects so that I wouldn’t have to deal.
The older and wiser woman in me now, would tell my younger self this:
1.) Grief visits everyone. It has no favorites. Brace yourself.
2.) Everyone will deal with their grief differently. Let them. Let you. (Healthily, of course.)
3.) Escape routes eventually lead to dead ends. Grief will have to be acknowledged before true healing can begin.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t until later in life that I realized the value of a good therapist. They help you unpack the loads you didn’t even realize you were carrying. Or, maybe you do.
Each session, I came out lighter. I came out healthier. I came out more whole. I was able to cry, to forgive, and to heal. It gave me a freedom when I didn’t even know I was bound.
Grief visited me again today. I faced it, and it’s gone.
For good? Probably not.
Grief has a way of lingering subtly in the shadows until it’s not so subtle.
I wish you all love, peace, prosperity, and, of course, unwavering faith and the courage to seek professional help so grief doesn’t swallow you whole.