I learned a lot from grief. I learned that my identity was as a wife, a mother and a daughter. When I lost my husband, and later my dad, a lot of what made me feel whole seemed to disappear. For years, I submerged myself in my role as “mom”. I needed my kids as much as they needed me. As they grew up and moved on with their lives, I again lost my touch point, my anchor. Where did I belong? How would I make a difference? It was a struggle. I forgot what it meant to be just “me”.
Have you ever felt the effects of too much caffeine? That jumpy, panicky feeling became normal for me. Most days, I felt like I need to crawl out of my own skin. On the days when my kids weren’t around or I didn’t have to work, I stayed in bed. It was easier to sleep than to face my reality. I didn’t keep up with my house or my yard. I avoided being at home as much as I could. I didn’t know how to ask for help. I didn’t know if there was any help. I was overwhelmed. I was supposed to be strong and I was embarrassed to admit that I was failing in every area. I just tried to keep my head above water.
I lived this way for almost 10 years. I knew I had to get used to my new “normal” and believed that I had dealt with my grief. I helped with grief recovery groups. I put on a good face. I didn’t realize that I was living with depression. All the things that had given my life meaning seemed to be disappearing. My son and daughter didn’t need a hands-on mom. I had accepted that I would live out the rest of my life alone. It had been long enough. I had to get over it all. I had to close the door on the part of my life that wanted to be loved and accepted.
But, I had a friend that listened to me. A friend heard what I said and what I didn’t really want heard. He asked questions I didn’t want to answer. He probed into areas that were off-limits. He recommended counseling. He encouraged me to trust again. He challenged me to open the doors that I had closed and sort through those emotions and dreams. He waited patiently to be allowed into all areas of my life.
There are many that question the choices I’ve made over the last four years. And, there are those that frankly, just disapprove of the life I now have. I’ve heard the whispers and I’ve seen the looks. I don’t have any doubts that I am exactly where I need to be. I married my dearest friend. I have never felt safer or more secure. I am loved deeply and completely. Our life is not without its challenges and frustrations, but we face them together.
I have learned that grief is love turned upside down. I will never give up the opportunity to experience a deep and passionate love in order to avoid the pain of grief. Love is worth EVERYTHING!