Feeling the Grief
My last post was seven weeks ago. It’s not that I haven’t had things to say for almost two months. If anything, I’ve had too much to say, but I simply couldn’t find the words. Over the last couple of months, I thought about shutting down my whole blog because it all felt too overwhelming. I didn’t know what I wanted this space to be anymore and I didn’t think I’d ever have the words again.
But, I’m finally ready to at least try and find them. Because writing is cathartic, especially in this space that is such a special part of my life. So, I’m settling in with my coffee and letting the words flow, as best as I can. This is a post about honesty and authenticity, about trying to explain the last couple of months. It’s not really an explanation for anyone other than myself because I don’t owe these words to anyone but to myself. So, this is in hopes that I can just write to make some sense of the messy thoughts in my head and my heart.
In truth, I don’t quite know what I’ve felt the last couple of months. Maybe the more accurate way to look at things is that I haven’t felt much of anything. That fire in my soul died down to flickering embers. I think I felt a little empty and a lot lost. I know much of it goes back to my grandma’s death this spring. We never had a funeral or a memorial service, so I never got that closure. But, more than anything, I jumped right back into my “normal” life after she died because I needed the security that my routines provided.
Death is hard work, both for the dying and for the living. It had been a long few weeks watching her slowly slip away. I made more trips home over the course of that month than I have in probably the last two years combined. I missed a week of work those first days she was in Hospice. The next week I was working all day and driving to my hometown every night to see my grandma. I never knew if it would be for the last time. For almost two weeks, the amazing Hospice staff was in disbelief that she was still hanging on to life. We were all hanging on my a thread. It was exhausting in every possible sense of the word.
So, when she died, I needed normal. That same night, just a few hours after I said goodbye one final time to a woman who meant the world to me, I went to see a friend’s band play. I needed normal, but I also knew I wouldn’t be okay sitting alone in my apartment. I realize now that decision started me down a path of avoidance, of denial. If I just went on with my life, maybe she wasn’t really gone. But, as much as I couldn’t bring myself to admit it, she was gone. And, it’s in the last couple of months that I began not only to process that, but to truly accept it and let myself grieve.
Since April 9, I felt a bit lost, even if I didn’t see that unfolding. Having lost sight of the bigger picture, and really of myself, I was going through the motions and not really doing the things that bring me joy. Life felt a bit like an out of body experience, where I could see myself existing, but not really living. It was an unspeakable grief that broke me to my core. My grandma had finished her hard work of dying, but I wasn’t willing or ready to do the hard work of grieving.
And so, that grief built up deep inside me. In recent weeks, I’ve finally given myself the grace to feel and to process everything. I didn’t have the words to say what I was feeling, so I kept it all in. I knew I was feeling some of the deepest sense of heartache and loss. But, I didn’t know how to express it. So, I kept it all to myself and at the Summit of Greatness welcome party last week, it all became too much. In the midst of the crowd, I had a massive anxiety attack. I drove to Columbus on a Wednesday morning and was back in Michigan that same night. I just couldn’t be there. It had nothing to do with the event itself, but the party was the moment that pushed me over the edge.
Perhaps not the healthiest way to work through it all, it was the journey I needed to take because it got me to the other side. Over the last few months, I lost sight of myself. While I know that the hard work isn’t over, I’m rediscovering not only who I am, but who I want to be. And, I’m ready to come alive again.