- When someone you love dies, all eyes are on you. Everyone who loves you, cares for you, and all others in between are watching you. They are watching your every move. They are wondering if you're going to be all right. They give you unsolicited advice. They try to get you to "talk" and "open up" so that you start the "grieving process". You will be judged and what you do will be analyzed... trust me.
What did I do? (Well I'm most certainly glad you asked...)
- When I was told that there was less then a 1% chance of survival, I understood. I let go. I turned off the machine. I went home and gathered my children around me and I told them what happened to their daddy. I slept in our bed that night. In the weeks that followed, I let every emotion I was feeling have it's place. I accepted the path my life went down, knowing I was powerless to change it. I went out and bought many, many books on how this so called "grief work" went down, trying to understand what steps I was supposed to take to ensure I healed appropriately. I told people I was fine.
What did I NOT do? (glad you asked that too...)
- I did not seek out counseling. I didn't feel that telling some stranger what happened could give me comfort or resolve to what happened. I did not seek out medication to numb me to all the different feelings I was having. I did not understand all the books I read. I did not feel like I had this huge hill to climb that many, many psychiatrists call "grief work". I did not deny what happened to me. I did not feel like I was healing inappropriately. I did not make excuses for any actions or bad behavior I participated in after he died. I did not curl up into a ball and shut the world away.
- I know death is different for every single person. The manner in which the person you care for dies causes different reactions. The relationship you have with that person also causes different reactions. I don't know if I've ever come clean about how I felt EXACTLY after Ryan died but I'm going to try to give a little insight to what I told myself...
- I have always understood the circle of life. It is what happens to EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. OF. US. We are born, we live, and we must die. Our bodies are not meant to carry on for centuries. I GET this. I UNDERSTAND this. On a deep level I think. Now, the next way of thinking might offend some, and I don't mean it to be harsh by any means but it was a *key part of my healing:
- I will not trade nor give up my life for my husband.
- That's pretty big huh? Yes, I was sad that he was gone. It sucked and it hurt inside my tiny little heart. Yet, I also believe that if it was Ryan's turn to leave this earth, then it was his turn. It was VERY unfortunate and tragic, but meant to be. I feel like I'm still here and I still have a job to do. I still have 3 children (now 4) to raise. I am still a Mother. I am still a PERSON. I will still evolve.
- Don't ask me how I would even begin to cope if it was one of my children though. I can't begin to imagine what would go through my mind then... I believe that Ryan and I were equals. We had each lived the same amount of life, but my children.... oh my children. There is no deeper love then the love I feel inside every bone of my body for them. In all honesty, it's not the same love I have for my husband(s).... My love for my husband can not ever touch that deep place. My body has never supported the very first second of life for him...
- And this book made me feel NORMAL.
- This book is one that I highly recommend to anyone who has ever felt out of place or abnormal after someone they love dies. If you have ever been told you have "healed to fast" or that you might be denying your grief and it will come back to haunt you later, then read this book. YOU ARE NORMAL.
- I love the way this book throws all things we in Western Culture believe about grieving up into the air and says, "It's not right." We are human beings and looking at our basic animal instinct, we are internally programmed to keep going. We are innately capable of accepting death. We are more resilient then we give ourselves credit for.
- He definitely accounted for many different factors and still agrees that yes, some do need medical/psychological intervention but MOST of us don't. He even has studies that back up the fact that TOO EARLY of an intervention can actually be HARMFUL in our own, personal grieving process. It can delay the process that our bodies and minds are capable of accomplishing without help.
- I also love the way he correlates unhealthy grieving with an unhealthy relationship with the person who dies. It makes COMPLETE sense to me. I think Ryan and I had a very healthy relationship. We struggled in the past but we made it through and we were healthy. Yet, I've seen others who have lost a loved one and if the relationship was unhealthy, they have had problems coping with the death. It makes PERFECT sense.
- He also has studied that laughter, memories, and talking openly make it much easier to heal, and to keep that connection present but not at the surface.
- I could talk about what happened to me and how it relates to this book for quite some time but I'd be rambling more then I already have. If your curious, if you know someone going through the grief process, or you yourself just need some validation that you are healing and that you are normal, then I highly recommend this book.
Time to go live some of that life I find so precious :)