I was with a friend and trying to describe this grieving process and I said “ The process of going through Doug’s dying process feels like a walk in the park compared to what is happening now.” In hindsight I don’t want to diminish the hardship that we both went through..especially Doug in that ten month journey. It is only that we always had each other to share the difficulties of that journey. The intimacy of that journey together was what made it possible for me to go through with as much grace as we experienced. There was always a hand to hold and another perspective to learn from. It was of course Doug’s choice of how he made his journey to the end. It was my journey to support him and to listen to my own needs as a caregiver. This was made easier by our agreement not to hide our experiences from each other.
My journey now is ultimately one that is alone. I have my family and my friends who are supporting me in anyway possible but it is up to me to create this new life. I have read a few things on grief that had a range of suggestions. Some have a cheerleader voice of “you can do this” approach. Another is more about it will take time and its okay to feel. Neither of these spoke much to this depth of pain that I had no words to describe. Recently I was sent an article on grief by Elizabeth Gilbert and it spoke to me deeply to what I have been experiencing. (She is an excellent writer and expresser of things deep.)
She spoke of the power of grief and how it takes you. She described it as a tsunami. In my limited experience of this type of grief it is such an apt description of this wave barreling in on you. The only way to be is to dive deep into it and let it take you. There is a physicality to it that I had not imagined. I feel like I can’t breathe..my heart is racing and then comes the exhale letting it out. Breathing.. crying.. words.. Letting life in..pain out.. In these moments I am not adding a story line but simply expressing something that is moving through me.
Grief is not what I imagined it to be. I had been grieving Doug’s illness for months.. I had grieved other deaths..my parents, my siblings, a best friend and deep personal losses. But this grief has a power and rhythm that I was not expecting. I had assumed that grief would lessen her hold on me but at times it has worsened. I think that there is some part of life that helps us through the trauma of loss. It is as though it holds some of that wave back so as not to shock the heart more than it can bear. And then for me there has been another level of a deepening realization that I shall never see this man I love so much and it feels physically and emotionally unbearable. Then suddenly I am out of the wave and washed on the shore again finding my footing in the shifting sands of my new life.
There is a part of me that wants to create the future happy ending of this grief. The deep realizations..the raw undoing of some ego structure that opens me ever deeper. But here, right now there is no knowing if this grief will lead me to deeper places and knowing..or if I will always carry this hollow place in my heart. Right now my work is to just be with this process..not judging my responses nor hoping for a different experience. And there are times of gratefulness..of the beauty I see so often around me or that I had such an amazing intimate relationship for so much of my life. And I sense the gift of Life itself.
So..How am I doing? I am in terrible grief and moments of wonderment and sometimes both are here at once.