I don’t know who I’m writing this for – probably just myself, or some future version of me who can look back and see how far I’ve come. Maybe someone who needs it will find their way here one day when they’re in the thick of grief. But here are some things that have surprised me about the grieving process…
It can be an ordinary Tuesday morning. I’m working away, crossing things off my To Do List, when suddenly it hits me like a wave of nausea. The sadness is so intense that I’ll often say, “Oh!” out loud before I know what I’m doing. It feels like I want to vomit, like something has to come out, only there’s nothing there but this deep, overwhelming well of sadness and missing.
Seeing people is hard. It’s hard to see people I love because they care about me and it’s written on their faces and that makes me cry. It’s hard to see people I like because I want to put on a happy face for them and that is very hard work. It’s hard to see acquaintances because while I can do small talk for a short while I find it deeply exhausting. It’s hard to see strangers because they don’t know, and I don’t know how to interact with people who don’t know because I feel like the fact that I lost my mom last month is one of my most defining characteristics right now. And it’s hard to see people I haven’t seen for a while because my first thought is always: ‘Last time I saw you I had a mom.’
Some days are good. I can almost feel normal for a few hours at a time. But it doesn’t last, something inevitably trips me up and the sadness returns. I find it really difficult that this is normal – that this endless cycle of sadness and missing, punctuated by short patches of okay-ness, is the best I can hope for. My whole life I’ve worked on myself to improve: spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically. And now I’m in a phase where there is no improvement, it’s just endurance. It’s a waiting game until the pain is less raw, the wound isn’t quite so gaping, I don’t randomly burst into tears because a thought crossed my mind.
The part that surprises me the most is how visceral it is. I literally feel like I’m being punched in the stomach sometimes. It is pain that doubles me over. And the moments when I feel okay feel almost as if I’m fooling myself – because if I stop and consider the fact that I will never have a mom again, I’m right back at step one. How can it be that I’m just 37 and motherless? There must be a glitch in the universe somewhere.
I know this will pass. This too shall pass, everything passes. I can see that life is easier now than it was a month ago and that every month will be a little bit more manageable. But I am floored by how hard grief is. How deep and painful and hard.