I find it difficult to put into words the process and feelings of grief and bereavement. Horribly impossible. I often want to write about it more to you all, as it is in our everyday life …. but putting the words to paper, it is hard. Grief has a definite beginning, but the ending is a forever journey. It will never go away and I am okay with that, because I love Wylder so much. I know the pain of missing him is real … so my grief will forever be a part of me, because Wylder will forever be a part of me.
So today I wanted to share this article about grief with you all. I think this woman’s words are beautiful. I know we are long past the “new year,” being at Valentine’s day today, but with Bruiser’s big arrival just days away (14 days to be exact) it is important for me to recognize that although great joy is coming, the grief that Wylder will not be here on Earth to meet him is reality.
I am beginning to look at grief as yet another blessing, although very difficult, it is a reminder of true love.
A New Year, A New Me
by Darcie D. Sims, Ph.D., CHT, CT, GMS
A new year. Another new beginning. Another chance; a new start; a new look. A new me?
I’ve always wondered why the new year begins buried in snow, frozen in ice or blanketed in mud. It always seems harder to begin (again) when my feet are encased in leaden boots or stuck in frozen mud. Wouldn’t it be easier to begin a new journey (again) if the weather were warmer and my feet were strapped into sandals or even bare? Wouldn’t new beginnings be easier if the air around me wasn’t so frigid, the ground below me not so frozen, the path before me not so slippery?
I think the new year should begin in springtime instead of during a month when all I want to do is crawl under the covers and hide. January is for hibernating, not starting something new. The start of the new year is a time of reflection, recollection and re-connection. Light reflects off the ice crystals of winter when the new year starts in January. Tears collect as we pack away the holidays, recalling happier times. And without the distractions of the holidays, we have time and opportunity to reconnect to ourselves. It’s a time to review, re-arrange and renew.
The beginning of the new year is a time for me to take stock, to rearrange and reorganize. I review life insurance policies, tax records, calendars, household inventories and my life. It just seems a good time to check on how I’m doing and where I’m going. Am I making progress? How am I doing? Where am I going?
I used to think that grief was a process with a definite beginning and an easily identifiable end. I know when it began. It’s the ending I’m having trouble with. After more than thirty years, I’m beginning to suspect that grief really is a journey. It’s got a pretty easily identifiable beginning and really no ending at all. That doesn’t mean I’m stuck or even particularly s-l-o-w in my grief. It just means I’m going; I’m moving; I’m grieving and it appears to be a lifetime journey. So, if there is no end, how do I know I’m making progress?
You know you’re making progress through grief when:
- You don’t always choke when you say your loved one’s name. Now, I can say my loved one’s name without that “catch” in my throat (most of the time), and I can even smile as I remember something wonderful instead of always reviewing one of the horrible moments.
- Tears don’t always well up in your eyes when you think of your loved one. I might cry once in awhile, but for the most part, my memories don’t bring pain any more. I can remember the laughter, the smiles and the good times more often than I can recall the tough times.
- The cause of death isn’t the emphasis anymore. In the beginning, the cause of death was one of the first things out of my mouth. Now, as I realize I am beginning to heal, I often tell a “life story” instead of a “death story.” How my loved one died is not as important as how he lived, and that’s a nice thing to remember first!
- Memories, for the most part, bring comfort, not pain. At first, I couldn’t even look at a picture of my loved one without a searing pain ripping through my body. Now I cherish the pictures we have and I love having them out to enjoy. I am not sure that time was the great healer. After all, the only thing that time does is pass. It’s what you do with the time that makes the difference. I guess that grief work is really just that…lots and lots of work is involved in order to reorder the memories. I still have the difficult ones. I just don’t recall them FIRST any more!
- You realize your plans don’t include your loved one anymore. This was hard. Because we are a career military family, we move a lot. For the first several years, every new set of military quarters or houses that we lived in had an empty ring to them. I kept looking at the empty bedroom as a place that “should have been something else” (like his room). After I began to make peace with my memories and began to realize that my loved one lives within me and not in the tangible things I kept, then I could allow my life to move forward. Always carrying the love between us with me, but no longer having to assign a bedroom or choose a neighborhood because of the school district. (That one was really hard, however!)
- You realize you are someone different. Grief does change us. I am neither a stronger or better person than before my loved one died, but I am a different person. My patience has changed, as has my tolerance level. My perspective has changed. I have truly learned how precious life is, and I don’t want to waste any of its moments. I say what I mean the first time and I never forget to tell people how much they mean to me or that I love them. I take more chances and live more deeply and fully.
- You can forgive yourself for living, when your loved one did not. This is perhaps the most difficult task of grieving, but one I am finding is easier as the years go by. I have created list after list of things I should have done to prevent the death. I have written out countless “If only” lists. I have “shoulded” myself almost into insanity! The trouble with those lists and that way of thinking, is it only serves to increase the guilt, and I cannot erase what happened yesterday in order to change my today. Sometimes that makes me angry and sometimes it makes me sad. So, I have learned that once my lists are of no more value to me, I can release them. Once they are no longer within my sight, I then must learn to relinquish them emotionally as well. That is difficult to do, but once I found I could do that, I discovered there was room for love to return. Once I could let go of the guilts, there was room for happy memories and love to come back.
- Your identity is no longer highlighted by the word bereaved. I will forever be a bereaved mom, but I am less a grieving mom than I was. I am beginning to be free of the hurt and pain of grief, and it has been replaced by a wonder and amazement that I got to share that wonderful life, even if only for a little while. How grateful I am, that our loved one lived! It wasn’t long enough; it never could be! But I am forever filled with gratitude that we got to hold love in our arms at all! It wasn’t long enough, but it was something,, and for that I am thankful!
Perhaps the greatest measure of my progress in this new year and in every new year, is my ability to embrace the joy of my loved one’s life, no matter how small the horizon. He lived. I loved him and I still do, and that is something to bring with me into this new year. This year, I will remember the life and the love, not just the death. You know that even though your loved one died, the love between you can never be destroyed.
Grief isn’t a seasonal song; it’s a lifetime song, but it doesn’t have to be a sad song forever.
Happy New Year! Happy New Beginnings! If not this year, then perhaps next year, you will be able to embrace the LIFE, not just remember the death. Keep walking…the journey does get easier.
May Love Be What You Remember The Most
Wylder, you lived, I love you and I always will. I will remember the life and love forever. Happy Valentines day, little Valentine. See you in our dreams. Love and miss you xoxo