As I look out the window, the blooming flowers and the budding trees profess the arrival of Spring. This used to be one of my favorite times of year. But, the rebirth of dormant trees and lifeless plants now mocks me. While I love its beauty, it reminds me of the loss of life as well. I try so hard not to go there, but my mind takes me there whether I want to go or not. I just have to make a choice if I’m going to stay there. Some days it’s easier to walk out of that mind set than it is on other days. Lately, it’s been hard to walk out of that darkness. I may not show it on the outside, but there are days that it takes everything inside of me to interact with others. I’ve had quite a few of those days lately even though I continue to laugh, smile, and function from day to day.
You might say…but it’s been three years….why are you still so sad?. While three years may seem like enough time to heal, let me just say…it’s not. There are days that I can block out the pain…that I can keep the trauma of losing my son at bay. I manage to keep it tucked inside the back of my mind. But, you know as well as I do that when you put pressure on something to keep it in place, eventually that pressure is going to build up until it can no longer be contained. And one day it just explodes. That’s what happens to me…my emotions explode. You may not be able to see that explosion, because when that happens, I tend to hide inside my shell. Solitude, at this point, is both a blessing and a curse. I struggle to be around others, yet I want to talk to someone. I want that someone to listen as they would if it had just happened. But, I get it….for those who haven’t lost an immediate family member, life just goes on. That’s part of what makes grief so maddening. People have the impression that time heals. The only thing that time does is that it puts more space between then and now. That space doesn’t make it better or doesn’t “fix” our grief. It doesn’t help us to feel less pain nor does it help us to put our pain in a box, never to be released again. Whether we realize it or not, it’s this paradigm that makes those in grief feel so alone.
Seeing grief as something to conquer and overcome diminishes the pain of our loss, because feelings are messy and it makes others uncomfortable. People don’t know what to say in that uncomfortable space. So, in our culture, people choose to avoid it altogether…because if we engage, it means that we understand and accept the fragility of life. It makes it real and tangible…and it makes us vulnerable.