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Grief and Loss: Tides of Time

From the other chair it was so easy to see the ebb and flow of her emotions; easy to see, but never easy to watch.  She described some days like being in a tsunami over taken by the waves, thrashing to and fro, feeling no solid footing, and unable to even grasp hold of something stable.  “When the emotions hit, there is no preparing. There is no holding it together.  There is just indescribable pain and a flood of tears.  Every word I speak takes everything I’ve got just to be understood amongst the heaves of my chest and sobs of utter anguish,” is how she described some moments.  Yes, moments, because her tsunamis sometimes last minutes and other times for hours. The unfortunate part about this kind of storm is the inability to plan.  No matter how much planning you try, some things just simply cannot be planned.  She asked, “Do you know how incredibly embarrassing it is to be knocked of your feet in the midst of a conversation, an outing, an activity, a movie, or any regular day to day situation?”  It is interesting how in nature and in emotions a tsunami in not the fault of the person experiencing the horrors of it.  “I feel like people are looking at me saying, what is wrong with you.  After all, I was just laughing and talking when someone mentioned Christmas.  All of sudden, I am body slammed with thoughts of how I will get through Christmas without him this year.” There is a different vantage point from the other chair.  Even if you have experienced grief and loss, the vantage point is different depending on which chair you are sitting.  From the other chair, there is planning how to get through holidays, anniversaries, the first year, and many other firsts.  Being able to plan is a way of maintaining some semblance of control.  It is more like preparing for a hurricane.  You know it is coming, you have been give opportunity to get to safety, but ultimately the decision is yours… prepare or don’t prepare.  Again, like in nature, you can prepare for a hurricane and it may or may not come on shore.  However, if it does come on shore and you have prepared, that does not mean you escape without damage.  She said, “I called my friends and family to tell them this would be a difficult month for me because it was filled with firsts… first birthday without him, first 4th without him, first vacation without him.  The hard part was that no matter how I tried to cover every angle and tie up any loose ends, I still felt the pain of missing him.”  In this case, the pain of missing him was not overwhelming because she had prepared, but not all of the people she talked to were as thoughtful as she had hoped they would be.  Furthermore, she had armed herself with pleasant memories and traditions upon which she could rebuild, but she reminded me, “Had there been no loss, I would not need to do this, and I would be making memories rather than looking in my mind at snapshots of what used to be.”  Once again, I am reminded that depending on where you are sitting, the view is different. Grief and loss is not a journey that really ever ends because real loss isn’t something you get over.  Living with loss means learning to live differently.  There will always be a before and an after.  Sure there will be very few tsunami moments (eventually), and hurricane season will become a distant memory, but the ebb and flow of the waves may linger for some time to come. There is so much more of this story to share… perhaps later, or perhaps you will have to read the book.


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