Bang, you came knocking on the door one day. You swept in pushing me over, changing my life forever. The one thing certain in life is that we are going to die. We know this. Nothing can prepare us for the loss of a loved one to death when you enter into our lives grief. You are hard to describe grief especially as everyone experiences you differently.
I can’t remember what I ate yesterday yet I can remember word by word that phone call when I first met you 26 years ago. ‘Dead? No.’ I cried, slumping to the floor. At that moment my world stopped. A wall of fog came up in front of me. I felt lost, frightened, confused and lonely. I could not imagine my life going on. On the journey home, we stopped at the services and I just starred in the mirror looking at myself. I had to tell my reflection what was happening. I just froze and numbness hit me. Once home, the practical side of things took over and it was easy to focus on that. I even remember us laughing as a family. Laughter as such a sad time. How irrational you can be grief!
The funeral. I think I was there. I can’t remember the day. I only remember how you felt grief. You hurt. I could not breath. The pain was unbearable. It was even worse that having cerebral malaria. And that hurt!
As I prepared to go back to University to sit my exams, denial hit me. I could not accept that the loss had occurred. You’re good at that grief. Letting us deny what has happened. I remember a friend asking me how I was. ‘Numb’ I said. ‘I cannot believe it has happened’. ‘You’ve said it enough times’ he replied. ‘You should know by now’. At that moment, I realised I was alone with you grief. I was surrounded by people my age who had not experienced loss. They did not understand. Their live’s went on.
I became a robot. I got up every day. Sat my exams. I functioned. Friends slipped away and I withdrew into myself. Days I could keep you at bay grief. Some days you hit me when I least expected you. Throughout that time, I felt useless. Reflecting back it is amazing to how I managed to carry on. I got that Master’s and before I know it, I was on my way for my first overseas assignment. I threw myself into my work. I kept that denial up. I was ok. I was superwoman.
Until one day a monster took over me. I still remember that day. I cringe at the friend who the anger was directed at. An overwhelming rage overtook me. And that anger stayed. I did not realise at the time but that anger stayed with me for over a year. Nothing was right. I blamed everyone apart from myself. Everyone else was the problem. At one stage, I was even angry at the person who left me. How dare they? If only they stayed at home that day. You know the drill grief. And then came the anger at myself. If only I went home the weekend before the death. If only I was a better person. If only……
If only someone sat me down and explained you grief, to me. If only someone took the time to listen to me. I am sure the grief journey would have less bumpy if I shared my grief and worked my way through it. Rather than keep stabbing in the dark and resisting you grief.
Two years later, I sank into a deep pit of depression. I was swarmed. I crumbled. I slowly lost my friends. Sadly most friendships have not recovered. Luckily someone picked me up and gave me that hug, and put me in right direction of help. Six months of help helped me crawl through that depression and start believing in life again. I accepted the grief. I was ready to move on. I could see my future. I knew I could start living my life.
Grief, what a journey we’ve had together. I would give up everything to have stopped that journey. But I have to admit, grief, that I have grown from our journey together. I would not be the person I am today without that journey. Some of the opportunities that came knocking on my door would’ve not happened if I wasn’t on your journey. You and I have our distance now grief. But you come knocking on my door sometimes. The birth of my son – a happy moment which you pushed your way into. What’s different now grief, is I allow that moment of unhappiness. I then look at where I am and those who are around me. I can then sit with you and let the happy memories flood in.
In the next blog post, this will look at things that I have learnt from grief and useful tips to help anyone experiencing grief through a loss.