Saturday, January 5, 2013

Grieving is funny business

Dec 1981.  L-R Back: Dad, Auntie Shirl, Mom
Middle:  Nam & Mac
Front:  Grampy & Grammy
Over the years, I've worked through the loss of people I dearly love; my dad, 25+ years ago; all of my grandparents; a couple of friends from my youth; and Bill, a little over 7 years ago.  I know definitively that I am resliant.  I don't stay sad for too long.  I always bounce back from loss.  

I've also learned over the years that for me, grief has funny, often peculiar, triggers.  The 1st year after I lost my dad was tough, but I was pretty numb, so milestone days (his birthday, Father's Day, Christmas, and the like) passed with little notice.  I was sad, but not grief stricken.  That came in the 2nd year, and in a big way!  My heart had healed just enough to form an emotional scab.  It didn't take much (a song, a piece of paper, a random comment, really anything!) to rip that baby off and expose the tenderness, unleashing a tsunami of tears. There were times when I was sure that I would never stop crying and that my heart would never, ever mend.  And so it has gone with the other losses in my life.  1st year - numb sadness.  2nd year - horrid, unrelenting grief and tears.  3rd & subesquent years - better, a little at a time.
This past summer, I finally completed a search for a primary care physician and had my first appointment with Dr. Alphaeus Wise.  Long story!  As part of the new patient process, I had to list, in one place, my family history.  I'm sure the last time I had to do this was some 30+ years ago, when everyone was still alive!  Good Lord!!!  As I completed the form, I found myself alternating between tears of sadness and joy.  Quite surreal I promise.
It was the first time, in a VERY long time that I found myself alone with my personal history; thinking about my family and how much they meant to me, how much of their history I carry, and what characteristics each one gifted me.  My Grammy Jean was "uber" creative and ran a very organized household.  My Grampy was strong, charismatic and stubborn. My grandma Nam was social and demanded good manners.  My grandpa Mac was "chill", quick with a smile and fiercely loyal.  My dad believed the best in everyone and pushed me to be authentic (walk your talk!) way before 'authentic' found its way into our vocabulary.  These qualities and so many more are who I am.
So the reflection time in the waiting room brought a torrent of inexplicable tears.  Thank goodness for Kleenex pocket packs! I finished the forms and mopped up most of the sadness. So, imagine my surprise as I start crying, yet again, when my new doc's opening line, after introductions, is "'ve been through a quite a bit in your life!"  Not the suave first impression I would have hoped for! 

And so it went; sniffles, tears and laughter as we went thorugh my personal and family history.  Lucky me...Dr. Wise is just that, and found a way to turn the conversation around so I could find my way back to my sunny self. 

I share this in the hope that you will be gentle with yourself as you walk your path of grief.  Don't be surprised by anything, just "be" with it and know that all is in order. 
Grieving is a funny business.  Just when you think you have it all figured out - you don't.  And it's all good!

How about has grief played with you?  Please share.


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