The Other Side of Grief, Maybe
I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve started this post. I tried crafting the “perfect” post, but it never felt right so, time and time again, I’d delete everything and start again. I struggled to put into what was happening in my head and my heart. That is a frustrating feeling when writing is something that usually comes so naturally. Some friends have suggested that this didn’t need to be something I publish, that it could just be therapeutic writing. I think that’s what the previous drafts served as in this grief process, working through the thoughts. As I find myself creeping onto the other side of grief, maybe just the thing I need is to share this post. It feels like an important stepping stone.
It’s no secret that when my grandma passed away last April, it hit me incredibly hard. But, it wasn’t until five months later that I was in a place I could really begin to process those emotions. Now, here we are, nearly six months after that. And, the last six months have not been easy by any means. I know that some people don’t understand because she was “just” a grandparent, but she was so much more in my life. I also know that I don’t need to justify my sadness.
Today, I can honestly say that it is getting easier. The fact that I finally acknowledged I was grieving so deeply helped. It’s not that I didn’t know I was sad and hurting. I didn’t understand how to work through the first major death in my life. I’ve lost a couple distant relatives and a couple friends, but never anyone so ingrained into my life. I didn’t understand what that kind of grief is like. More importantly, I didn’t know how to work through it.
And, so I didn’t. I tried, time and time again, to force myself back into my normal life. It was easy to rationalize. She wouldn’t want my life to stop because she wasn’t here, I told myself. Which, of course, is true. But, grieving and continuing on with my life don’t have to be two separate events. They can, and should, go hand in hand.
Since the first of the year, I have taken more active steps to work through my feelings. I started digging into Claire Bidwell Smith‘s work on grief at Theodora‘s recommendation. I also met with a grief therapist in early January. We talked through everything ranging from how the things I usually love weren’t brining me joy to the massive anxiety attack I had in September. What this all helped me to understand is that it’s all a normal part of grief. Rather than trying to force myself through the process or more accurately, ignore the feelings, I realize the importance of letting it happen naturally.
So, that’s what I’ve tried to do since – to let myself feel the anxiety and sadness, and to give myself the grace not to do the things I feel like I “should” do. If I wanted to exercise, I did. But, if I felt deeply sad and wanted to zone out and binge watch Cheers, that was okay, too. More often than not, I opted for the latter. I was finally giving myself the freedom to feel the way I feel. It’s a fine balance, though, because sometimes I feel like I’ve used my grief as an excuse. Maybe I was but maybe that’s okay, too. Either way, really and truly giving myself this freedom has helped immensely. I’ve felt more healing in the last two months than in the nine before that.
And, in recent days, I really do feel the “old” Mindy creeping back. I know that I can’t simply return to who I was before she died. My life looks different a year later and that would be true even if she were still here. But, I hope that I can be a better, more whole version of who I was before her death. There will still be hard and sad days, but today more than ever, I feel like the worst is behind me.
Grief is not a feeling you can sweep under the rug and ignore. I tried that and it didn’t work. But, I let myself simply live in the sadness for a season and that has made all the difference.