Welcome to Conversation With Katherine and my podcast, Grief, Death, and Love
In this podcast I am talking about a very specific type of grief. The grief of someone that you have loved that has died. This is a knock you to your knees event and you are not sure that you will be able to get up. Maybe you are not sure that you even want to get up. Your world is suddenly changed and the hardest thing to accept is how quick death comes and the finality of death.
The world you knew, the person you knew the love you knew has been replaced with the void of longing. In my own experience with death I gained an understanding of what I did not understand. I understood all of the cognitive things about death and the various conceptual contexts. I did not understand the experience of death. The death of someone you loves is a personal experiential event. The intellectual concepts dd not matter to me because in the beginning I was emersed in a wave of complete numbness. The busyness that surrounded me, of those in my life, who were trying to be supportive was lost on me. My ability and desire to engaged was more a part of my quiet world of silence.
I finally emotionally experienced the gut wrenching pain, hopelessness, an eerie sense that all of what was happening was not real, yet, knowing that it was very real. I would hear people say things to me that they thought were supportive. In my mind I would ask myself how could they say those things to me. Could they not understand the pain. I slowly began to understand that the grief of someone you love is so personal that only I could understand my pain. In spite of the good intentions I became lost in my own world of sorrow and pain.
I am sharing this because it was in grief that I became a different person and in some ways a better person. I had to leave my comfortable world of intellect and enter the world of raw emotion. This was not a comfortable world for me. I recognized that in grief part of my process of grieving was understanding the person that I had become. I found myself walking through life in an emotional zombie suit. Except the world did not know I was a zombie only I knew that nothing that was said to me was going to change the pain. Until....it started to change. The change was a slow process filled with starts and wrenching moments that would take me back to the first moment of my pain.
I could be walking down the street and see someone who reminded me of the person that I loved and I would be taken back to the first moment of my loss. Getting excited about an event and reaching for the phone only to remember that they would not be on the other end. Remembering the tiny irritations that seemed so big at the moment and wanting just to have a moment again with the person, even if we were arguing. Having daily especially at the beginning moments of wondering how long was the pain going to last and just accepting that this was my new reality. I was driving one day and drove by an amusement park where we went every year and suddenly burst into tears because I knew it would never be the same. Through all if those small and large moments I evolved.
The pain ebbs but I still have moments of sadness though they are not as gut wrenching as they were in the beginning. I have sadness on anniversary dates, birthdays, holidays and other important moments that we shared. I was fortunate because in my healing process I have been able to transcend and bring the love that I shared and the person back into my present life. I will always have love and connections because it was the love that I initially thought that I had lost. In the transcending of my grief I realized that the love is not past tense it is present tense. It is part of my internal being because the person was part of my internal being. My memory of them is frozen in time, my love is ever evolving. I understand that if I had not loved as deeply I would not have hurt as deeply. I also understand it is the depth of my love that has helped me become a more loving, compassionate person. I would not sidestep love because of my fear of pain. I am forever grateful for the love that I was able to experience and the person that I shared my love for will always be in my heart.
I have gained understanding that the personal journey of grief does not have a time limit or expiration date. I am amused by how in this society we get three or four days off from work with the expectation to get back to work. I was fortunate that where I worked after I came back, I routinely just took paper from one side of my desk and moved it to another side of my desk. I don't think I did any real work for weeks.
I remember the day of the service the sun was shining and I hear someone laughing and I wondered how could the sun shine. My world of grief was standing still and the lives of those around me were moving forward. It is an odd sense because once all of the ceremony or rituals related to death have been done. You are alone, with your thoughts, sadness and silence. No matter how supportive those around you are they do not sit in your grief. They do not sit in your sadness because in their lives the sun is shining. I understood that only those who have had the experience of grief understand some of what you are going through. For others they understand the context but not the personal meaning of your experience.
Thank you for listening to Conversation With Katherine and my podcast Grief, Death and Love