Man oh man, grief is unpredictable. It’s such a learning process. Just when you think you’re starting to get the hang of it, it will throw you for a loop. Grief hits you in waves, check. Grief is different for everyone, check. You will start to find a new normal, check. Expect to feel disconnected and hollow, check. Check, check, check.
What we know about grief is pretty spot on. The information guides help us prepare for the steps. One thing that I’ve heard repeatably is to “be gentle with yourself”. I’m starting to learn just how important that step is. It’s easy to numb out a little and go through the motions. To do “life”. But you really don’t expect those damn waves they tell you about.
Last night Dean and I decided to watch Titanic. “Let’s watch Rose and Jack try to fit on that huge door.” We watched the whole movie, me telling Dean how cute Leo was as a 12 year old girl, Dean explaining some of the mechanics of a ship that size to me. (That’s our MO, Dean teaches me and I tell stories). It was nice, it was normal, it was familiar and fun. And then, in one of the final scenes, there’s a woman in the water holding a baby who died. The physical response my body had to that moment was instantaneous. From the top of my head to the tip of my toes I went boiling hot to freezing cold and then back to boiling hot. I immediately had to throw off my blanket, take off my house coat and try not to strip down fully. My ears were ringing and I started crying in a nano second. And I couldn’t stop. A two second clip in a movie i’ve seen probably ten times crushed me. Talk about an unexpected surprise.
When we talk about grief we often talk about it in umbrella terms. That makes sense, seeing as we all grieve so differently. What we don’t expect are the moments that throw you under the bus. The thing is, no one wants to be that person who’s talking about the sad stuff, the uncomfortable and “depressing” things. Today’s society values and promotes positivity, strength, resilience and happiness. That’s a wonderful thing. We’ve all seen the inspirational quotes. I love them. That’s the ultimate goal.
But I think we need to embrace the Grey areas a little more, by allowing and encouraging and supporting each other through the moments that just flat out suck. We all try to hide those times. Social media moments aren’t usually anything short of beautiful. Or funny. Or uplifting. Again, that’s a wonderful thing, but not when it shames us into hiding the reality of life sometimes. Embrace those shitty times, give them their moment, and then get up again and see how tomorrow goes.
Oh, and my lesson learned last night? Wear layers at all times so that my next post isn’t about public indecency.