I decided to start blogging again. Actually, I decided a few weeks ago. What prevented me from actually sitting down and posting, is not knowing where to start.
I could have just picked up where I left off, posted a recipe and pretended that nothing had happened. After much thought, I decided that wasn’t a genuine approach. I can’t go forward without acknowledging that I’m not the same person and everything has changed.
The only thing I could think of to write about while I am grieving, is grief itself. I won’t pretend to know what other people go through, I simply aim to share some of my own thoughts and experiences.
There’s no point in going into what happened. This is a public blog and the internet is full of people with their own problems. Suffice to say that tragedy struck and there was no way I could have prepared for it.
The first thing I would note is that there’s no guide book to grieving. There aren’t any stages either. Saying that grief comes in stages suggest that there is some order or process involved. That you will first go through one emotion that will neatly lead into the next. My experience wasn’t like that at all. Instead, the different emotions inevitably came as stabs from a blindingly sharp needle, sometimes one at a time and sometimes all jumbled up. Though it sounds irrational, it is possible to be happy and unbearably sad at the same time. Along with the grief can come feelings of guilt. Guilt for not feeling or for feeling too much. Guilt for not doing something when there is nothing you can do. Guilt for somehow angering God or the universe and bringing it all down on you and your family.
Another side of grief that I never would have expected was in the random arrangement of it all. There are times when I sit down, maybe looking at a poignant picture, and expect a flood of emotion. Instead there is only emptiness and distraction. Suddenly it sneaks up on you like a wild cat, tail twitching, to pounce when you least expect or want it, in the shower or walking the aisles of the grocery store.
Perhaps this is just me, but I am totally unequipped to deal with people who want to console me. In the first few weeks, my worst fear was to be recognized somewhere. That I would be seen away from home and then approached and hugged. As the well-meaning friend would put an arm around my shoulder, I would be searching desperately for a shovel and pickaxe so I could tunnel my way out. My brain understood the intentions of the other person, seeking to comfort, but my body would just seize up.
“How’s it going,” sounds like such a benign phrase. It’s one of the most common ways to greet someone, especially among men. For quite a while it left me stammering. I couldn’t answer with the normal, “Good. How are you?” That would have been a bald-faced lie; I was anything but good. Instead I would stammer, “Uhh.. Okay…” which just piled onto the discomfort of the situation. I finally settled on the oh-so-banal reply, “Hangin in there.” At least it avoided feigned cheer.
In the months that have followed, I don’t really know if I have started to heal or not. Somthing I heard once best describes where things have settled down – that the pain doesn’t grow less with time, you just feel it less often. I’m sure there are as many ways of coping as there are people in the world. I have taken to saying a rosary every weekday, 15 minutes where I can feel things and think, or not, but be free from the distraction of the internet or books or housework. I try to find gratitude even in the worst situations, to be grateful that these changes in my life may have helped me to be a better person.
And that’s that. I’m sure my next post will be silly or maybe delicious and I don’t intend to dwell on the negative in this space, but it didn’t feel right going on without speaking to my absence as well as perhaps a change in tone. I know that I don’t feel the same and that it stands to reason I might not write the same either.