In the year following Bill's death, I was completely numb. I went through the motions - 365 days passed and I could barely remember what had happened, let alone identify specific moments in time. The second year, I went into a dark place and couldn't identify what was happening. I couldn't shake the sadness. Just when I thought I would be OK, Bill's brother was killed in a freak motorcycle accident. I felt like I'd been pushed under water. The sadness in my bones lasted until after the first of the year and took the remainder of the year to melt away.
Year 3 approached and I really dreaded the summertime. I just knew that I was going to be sad, and sure enough... I received what I anticipated! However, my time in the cave didn't last as long and I was encouraged. Late last fall, during a period of intense introspection, I finally figured out (with much gratitude!) the source of my sadness. For me, summer and early fall are closely linked to loss of loved ones. To cope, my normally cheerful, optimistic self crawls to a place of safety (the "cave") and assumes the fetal position for whatever length of time it needs to sort through all of the feelings of anger, sadness, hopefulness and faith that are associated with loss, leaving the rest of me to cope with the world. For me, this period is now fondly referred to as "the funk". You might imagine that with the cheerful "me" on hiatus, the rest of "me" is not all that much fun - and you would be correct! I'm just not very good company during this period.
Coming out of "the cave" last year, I resolved to be more present with this period of time each year...to pay attention to what was happening to see if I might learn anything. It's odd paying such close attention to my feelings!? This year, I've noticed that the funk started a little later....and curiously it doesn't seem to be quite as intense this year. Good news! I'm hopeful that this hibernation period is brief and restorative!!
How do you handle grief? I'd love to hear your thoughts, so please post a comment!