Why did I not return to my blog when I had every intention of doing so in 2010? The only true answer, if I search my soul, is that I have been in a kind of broken place for a few years. I tell myself that this place has nothing to do with the death of my daughter 27 years ago, but it is possible that it has everything to do with it. This journey never leaves me. I don’t want to step out of that piece of my life. It has molded me in ways that I never expected.
Over time, I have become broken in other places in my life. I have days in which I feel that I will step out and move forward only to rethink that thought again in a few minutes and begin to talk myself out of it. I know I will break through this funk just as I did with the process of grieving the death of my Grace. I know all will be well when I am ready to move forward. Through all that I have gone through in my life, I know that for the most part I feel healed from the grief that took over my life beginning at the end of August in 1983. However, things sometimes happen that unexpectedly bring it all back.
I feel truly blessed that I was able to attend the classes at Hood College in Frederick Maryland on Thanatology (The Study of Death and Dying). This program really helped me understand that no two people will grieve alike and that their are many ways to grieve. Some say that there are stages that apply to the grief process. I don’t know that I agree with the term “stages of grief.” The stages listed are only basic stages: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. These stages though listed in this order do not occur in any set order because we can go in and out of these stages over and again while grieving. For example, we may think that we have accepted the death of the loved one and something as simple as hearing a song or watching a movie that reminds us of the deceased and triggers hidden emotions that we did not even know we felt like depression or anger.
The emotions felt might seem odd or out of place because we feel that we have accepted the loss. Other times, we get angry and do not realize that it is because feeling that have not yet begun to feel or that we thought we had buried deep within ourselves suddenly begin to surface.
When this happens, we can lash out at our family and friends over something as simple as the trash did not get taken out without even understanding that the real reason for the anger is grief. We can feel anger that the family member or friend died, or we can be angry that they left us behind or that they left a lot of unresolved problems. Anger is the feeling that we are taught to repress and to repress it fast. People are simply not comfortable around people who show the raw emotions that are felt when life has suddenly become a chaotic funnel cloud of emotions, feeling, thoughts, broken dreams, etc. that has suddenly ripped apart the normalcy of life in general. Someone caught in base emotions are hypersensitive to the responses of the people in their lives. He or she might pull away or overreact to things that would not usually be a problem.
There are also many more stages/steps, but these are often considered the ones felt by all that are bereaved at some point. Afterall, a theory has to start somewhere. When we think of a process, we think of steps, and grief does not fit into an easy to follow map. I have requested that people who are bereaved post these five stages on the refrigerator so that they realize what is going on before the symptoms take over and further disrupt the healing that we all seek when we are locked in pain.
Also, understanding that family and friends who are trying to help you heal can be the ones that cause more duress with statements that are spoken out of innocent ignorance. In general, we don’t know how to properly act and speak to the bereaved. Broad and vague statements are said and/or received as cruel or heartbreaking even though the person who said them did not intend for it to be taken the way it was received. The raw emotional state can lead to heightened emotions like anger, depression, sarcasm, crying, etc. The bereaved can feel that no one really can understand his or her pain even if they have experienced a similar loss. Most of the time, all that is needed is someone who has time to or is willing to take the time to just with be present and willing to talk about the pain without trying to fix it.
If we see that the bereaved is not able to successfully work through the basic stages or if we cannot get through them ourselves, the grief becomes complicated grief and should be handled with the help or a professional like a doctor, minister or counselor. Accepting help from a professional is not an admission of weakness. It takes true strength to reach out for help when it is needed.
I see this as a new beginning. If you need someone to talk to my name is Abigail, phone number is 240-538-5406. Yes, that is my real phone number. Or, reply to this blog. Open up the conversation and share your experiences with others who are healing. We never know which of our stories will hit home for someone else who is trying to find their way. Let’s be there for each other.
Remember that taking steps toward healing does not mean forgetting; no guilt needs to be considered when experiencing this process. No person can be in all places all of the time. Things happen that simply are not in our control. I even felt guilty for a long time when I realized that I was healing and moving onward. It took my training for me to see that she, my Grace, will always be with me even when I am healed and living my life again. Now, sitting at the gravesite brings me nothing but peace. I sit beside her grave and tell her things that no one else knows about me. I know in my heart that her soul is not there, but sometimes, I need that place to go to and put things together. It is my place of peace and personal connection with her. To me, she is my Guardian Angel. My other children and my grandchildren also agree that she watches over us. I say she has a full time job on her hands just keeping up with me; however, I love sharing her with others. After all, I am the person that I am now because she came into my life.
PS: I welcome poems, letters, artwork, and stories that are written about Grief, Survival, etc. I graduated with my BA in English with honors in writing and will be willing to help anyone who wants me to help with editing their work before publication. All works submitted will remain the work of the creator.