Times may change, but our stories remain…
It’s been 7 years, but as far as I’m concerned, it just as well could have been yesterday. Ask anyone who has lost a parent, spouse, child, sibling and we’ll all say the same. The passage of time means nothing -the loss is as fresh as the day our hearts were torn apart.
Time doesn’t heal the wound, time forces us to stitch it up and live with the scar.
I think that’s the really hard part about grief. Unless we choose to tell our story for years to come, we end up doing it alone.
“When days seem like years and years feel like days.” – Robert Brown Fulford
In some way, there is a certain aspect of grief that gets harder as the years go on. I know, I know, you’ve got people telling you that it will get easier and that time will heal the pain. But if I were a betting woman, I’d put my money on the, “you haven’t been there” category, right? Yes, time does help us develop coping skills and allows us to learn to love life again, but that’s not overcoming grief. What many who haven’t been there don’t know is that there is, and will never be, a day in your life that you don’t think of the one you’ve lost. Some good memories, some not so good memories, and some downright awful ones. Moments that will make you smile, cry, take your breath away, and moments that pull you right back to that very day – that’s grief.
So much has happened in 7 years – lots of changes and lots of new friendships. Most of the people I meet now only know Volume 2. They see me as a happily married mom of 3, running a business and raising a family. And when they find out that I have a 17yr old, 13yr old and 3yr old, they assume I’m divorced and remarried. What they don’t know is that Volume 1 is a story about life spent married to a man with brain cancer while raising 2 babies, and scraping every penny to keep a roof over our heads. They don’t know about the never-ending seizures, surgeries, treatments we had to endure as a family or about the day I told my kids their father was going to die and walking them into that hospice room for the final goodbye. They don’t know that I had no idea how I was going to do it alone, or how I look at them every single day with such love, admiration and awe because of their strength and resolve. Gee, I wonder how that that conversation would go, right?
So, life moves on and many of our stories get buried down deep. We learn to live with the everyday memories and grieve alone because we’re “moving on” just like we’re expected. Things were easier when the loss was fresh, with tons of support and opportunities to talk about feelings and memories. Time goes on, conversations fade and people get uncomfortable. But there’s a big flaw in the theory of moving on. The problem is that, at any given moment, in any given day, we can be snapped right back to THAT chapter in our book – “the reality of what actually happened” chapter. Something, anything, can trigger it – a song, a word, a street sign, a stranger…anything and everything and without warning. It has the power to change the course of your day and often it will. I actually had a moment today when an old familiar song came on the radio while driving – the song I used to hear every time I drove back and forth to hospice. It jolted me right back to the point that I had to pull over and let it happen. I listened to the entire song, took some deep breaths and collected myself, by myself. It’s in these moments that I realize that the trauma of death never goes away, no matter how much life changes. That’s when I worry most about my kids. They’re going to have so many more of these moments in their lifetime and I really hope they don’t feel as though they have do it alone.
I keep my story alive by writing and speaking. Honestly, I’m really not sure how I would handle these moments if I didn’t have an outlet – a way to work through that timeless chapter in my life and to help others in the process. So dig deep and pull out that story. Find your outlet and share it with the rest of us stitched up hearts learning to live with loss. Or as a very cute, wise, witty little girl who left us way too soon would say, “Sharing is Caring”! -HP