Tuesday, August 14, 2012

My grief observed...

I have spent more time reading than writing as of late.  I seem to enjoy allowing my mind to melt away in someone else's world of words instead of putting my own together.  I read an interesting memoir on grief, and it prompted me to read one of C.S. Lewis' works, A Grief Observed.  I had never heard of it, and had, in fact, never read Lewis.  But anything that I can get my hands on that helps me make sense of this weird emotional cycle of grief I will gladly read.

It's a very short little read, and in just two days I am over half way through.  I have already found so much universality in grieving the loss of someone deeply loved, and that remains the single most comforting thought to me.  That I am not alone, that what I feel is nothing new, and that there's nothing remarkably special about it.  The only thing special about any one person's grief is that it is unique and specific only to the relationship lost.

So what observations do Lewis and I share in common?

"No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear."
Fear.  It does feel quite like fear.  A constant looking over one's shoulder searching the horizon for something lost.  I find myself looking for her in everything, little left behind pieces of her scattered anywhere I might be.  It's a lot like losing your keys, searching and searching in every room and every square inch you've been.  But when in the midst of grief, the searching never ends.  There's no relief from the looking, no resolution to the problem.  This results in a sort of panic, one I have never experienced before.

"There is a sort of invisible blanket between the world and me.  I find it hard to take in what anyone says.  Or perhaps, hard to want to take it in.  It is so uninteresting."
This is perhaps the thing I have struggled most with, this feeling so disconnected with the world around me.  I have always been so generally interested in everyone, enjoying visiting with others and talking about whatever may come up.  But now, I don't have as much desire for casual conversation, for the light discussion of who is doing what, what so and so says about this and that.  I try to play the old role of myself when around other people, nodding and smiling and laughing on cue, but I am not present in the moment.  And it's difficult.  I have been so changed, forever changed, by my experiences surrounding my mother's illness and death, that it's hard for me to reconcile between the me before and the me afterward.  The me before and after I dropped morphine into the side of my mother's unresponsive mouth.  The me before and after I picked out her clothes to be buried in.  The me before and after I touched her cooling body just a matter of minutes after her last breath.  The me I was before is no more, and the me afterward is not so drastically different than who I once was.  But I am just different enough that I feel out of place in almost any situation except when with only my children and my husband.  It's the strangest thing I have ever experienced in my life.  And I sincerely hope it's one of the parts of grief that begins to get better and easier over time as I continue to be told.

"And no one ever told me about the laziness of grief... I loathe the slightest of effort.  Not only writing but even reading a letter is too much."
I told someone, my dad I think, that it takes so much energy to deal with what goes on inside my head that there's none left for anything else.  So much energy to deal with the emotions of the past two years in general, and not just the very day of the loss.  With cancer, there's an up and down movement that lasts quite some time.  There's the treatment plans that work and those that don't.  There are good scans and bad.  There are surprises and twists in the plot.  There are surgeries and recoveries.  There are emotions and exhaustions and a grief that begins long before a death certificate is issued.  Once that person is gone, you are left to deal with the journey as a whole instead of bit by bit as you have done all along.  Making sense of all the things that took place in just this calendar year has been exhausting.  Couple that with finding out who you are in a world without someone you love so much, and this brings about a fatigue like none I have ever experienced before.

"The act of living is different all through.  Her absence is like the sky, spread over everything."
Much like the sky.  It is over everything I do and cannot be dismissed or ignored, as much as I may in a moment try.  In fact, I need to acknowledge that the grief is there the same as the sky, not letting myself forget that I am in the midst of a process.  Just the other day, I stood in front of the mirror washing my face and looking at this shell that is me.  I look tired, and I feel even more so.  I used to have so much more energy than I do right now and have the gumption to get things done.  I look older, the grey hairs becoming more common along my hairline.  There's a physical difference in me, and I cognitively know that this grief thing has a lot to do with it.  But this other part of me is so disgusted in myself, so sick of the foggy forgetfulness, the lack of energy to do the daily tasks, the huge differences in my internal self.  There runs a thin line between complacency and acceptance, and I am not sure if I will ever find the balance.  I want to be different, but I am not sure how different I can handle being right now.  I am hoping that as time passes, the sky of grief that covers my life right now will slowly shift back to the sunny sky of life and not the foggy grey of now.

So there are my thoughts.  My own grief observed.  Funny how universal yet completely unique grief is.  Funny how there's nothing new under the sun, nothing left to be felt or done that hasn't already.  Here we are on this crazy life journey all together and parallel to one another.  We live, we love, and ultimately we lose.  And all throughout, as a Christian and true believer in my core, I struggle with the grief in terms of my Hope in Him.  Yet another element to this raw emotion.

I still hold this as my favorite verse of all time:
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.   {Romans 15:13}

Still trusting.  Still hoping.  And still grieving.


Erika Kaplan said...

Always praying for you. Love you bunches.

Connecting to the soul said...

I so wish there was something I could say that will make the hurt, the tears the loneliness go away my sweet friend. All I can offer is a shoulder to cry on and arms to hold you - you may not really feel. When my grandma died I lost my whole world. She was there for every thing in my life both good and bad. When we said good bye for the last time it was harder then anything I had ever felt. I'd have moments when I would pick up the phone and be half way thru her number before I remembered...... I felt so alone. Although I did not live every day with my grandma as you have with your mom, the loss is still painful beyond anything.

Keep smiling, your mom is watching over you.


Nana's Notes said...

I hurt for you and I love you dearly. Continuing prayers..