Monday, January 04, 2010
Have you ever been really sick for what seems like a really long time? You just want your body to get back to normal. When you can stand up without falling over again you think, "Oh, yes! I'm better!" and then try to get back to life like normal. Shortly into getting back to your normal life you realize that you're still sick. You just can just manage to leave your bed today. Going to work is probably still not an option because you get shaky walking to the bathroom. Every little bit of progress gives you hope that today is the day, this is the moment, when you're healthy and whole again. Unfortunately, it takes more than one day, more than one moment, to regain your health.
Grief is like that. When the crying mostly stops and the funeral is over you think to yourself, "Whew! The worst is over!" and you expect life to move forward and the grief to stop. So, you move on and expect to get right back to work and to pick up life as usual. Shortly into resuming normal life you realize that just like the days where you're well enough to get out of bed when you have the flu, today is not the day your life is once again normal.
Every time you have what almost approaches for a normal moment you once again hope that today is the day, this is the moment, when the grief stops. Someone compared grief to waves that crash and recede. This is more accurate. It doesn't just start and stop all at once. The worst isn't over when the funeral procession disburses. Grief builds over time- it gets worse before it gets better and the worst isn't what you feel at the beginning.
Shock is what you feel in the beginning. It protects, insulates, you from the grief. Even when you think you're fully in control of yourself and your emotions, the emotions you're feeling are blunted. If they weren't we probably wouldn't survive them.
As the shock wears off you feel more of the brunt of the emotions your body's been protecting you from. Because it happens gradually you build up walls that allow you deal with the emotion without going over into the abyss. I liken it to encapsulating the feelings inside a hard shell- kind of like an abscess (romantic image, isn't it?).
Yet, every day you hope that it will be better, you will be better. Until one day (or so I'm told) you really are yourself again and can move without the weight of your emotions crippling you.