Grief is a dance in uncomfortable shoes
Updated: Feb 15, 2020
Much like death, grief is not predictable. We do not grieve the same way, it doesn’t happen on queue; there isn’t a rulebook that says: “this is how you will feel and when”. My father passed away over 20 years ago and I am only now truly feeling that loss. My sister passed away less than that, and my heart aches for her daily. Some people cry, some people hold it in, some people wonder why they don’t feel a thing, and some wonder when the tears will stop and the pain will end.
I received a call today; from the husband of a patient I had who passed away two years ago. Two years ago to the day to be exact. I asked him how he was doing; he said he has good days and bad days. He talked about the changes in his life since she passed away; he finally started cooking again, he moved the furniture around, the cat finally sleeps with him now and the plant they grew from seed, that almost died when she got sick is blooming. He said, “life continues”. It sounded so forced, as though he felt he was supposed to say it, supposed to go on and move forward. It sounded almost robotic. I don’t think he has moved on, I don’t think he has moved forward. I think he says all the things he thinks everyone wants to hear, but I get the feeling he is stuck in time, back to two years ago today when he lost the love of his life and can’t seem to get beyond that.
This got me thinking about death and life and life after death; and the difficulty each person has moving on. I move on, from one patient to the next; one mother, one father, one sister, one brother… and so many deaths I can’t even count them any more. But I don’t forget. I too grieve; sometimes I grieve for the patient, sometimes for the people left behind, and sometimes I am reminded of my own personal losses that I have tucked deep inside until I remember again. Sometimes I cry, sometimes I smile, sometimes I am just grateful for the memories and that I can still remember them.
I think that is what grief is, at least for me. It is the reminder of someone we loved and lost. It is the memories we had, and the fact that we will not be able to make any more. If you have read my book or my previous blogs, you have heard me say this before; I have a favorite quote: “My memories say hello, they ask about you all the time”. That is what grief is to me. It is missing the person I made so many memories with; from my parents, to my sister, to the many friends I have lost… I miss making memories with them. But again, I am so thankful I can remember.
I think moving forward I will continue to live a life of memory making. For my families, at their deepest time of loss, I will encourage them to remember and to move through their grief with whatever emotion comes their way. Some days will bring laughter, some days will bring tears, and some days will bring anger because they are no longer here but hopefully each day we will be reminded of the love we once had, the memories we made and the truly beautiful impact they had on our life.
Grief is a dance in uncomfortable shoes; we hear the music, we feel the need to move with it, but sometimes we are clumsy, we lose balance and we fall. And sometimes we glide gracefully, with ease. Just know… that it is also okay if you stand still for a bit and sway, just don’t stop listening to the music.