Remember when your kids were young and they'd get so tired, either from excitement or illness or changed routines, that they just would NOT go to sleep? It starts out with just a little fussiness, just a bit of grumpiness. Before too long they're just not happy with anything you try to soothe them.
Favorite blankie? Why would you offer them that rag? Binkie? What do you think I am- a baby? Cuddles? Oof, you're too hot- let go! How about a game of peek-a-boo? Good grief woman, I'm mad and i do not want to play that STUPID game!
Eventually, after exhausting all the fun parenting tricks in your bag- you just put the kiddo to bed and leave them to scream. The screaming is heart breaking- but trying to jolly the kiddo out of it doesn't work. So, screaming it is- until- abruptly, mid-wail, they fall asleep.
You can try to head off the screaming, but once the kids hit that point in their exhaustion- all you can do is delay the inevitable. The screaming has to happen before they'll be able to relax and surrender to sleep. One of the toughest things any parent does while their kids are young is try to figure out when to help and soothe and when to leave the baby to melt down. There's a bit of second guessing and wondering if there's something else that can be done to soothe them to sleep... but generally by the point of leaving them to "cry it out" you've already tried everything you know- at least twice.
Grief can be like that. I feel it rise up under my skin. Everything feels unsettled and "off." Nothing is really right. Everything rubs me the wrong way. I can jolly myself out of it for weeks, sometimes even months at a time- but- eventually the melt down has to happen. No one can pull me out of it. I can be distracted- but beneath the surface the grief is still rising.
Melt downs aren't fun. They may be cathartic- but they never totally dispel the grief. Nothing is ever completely settled. That seed of grief is still there. It will grow again. But each time I melt down, I learn more about the process and begin to see the signs along the way that warn of impending chaos, anger, and heart wrenching sorrow. As I recognize the signs I can try to vent the grief in new ways and hopefully get a handle on it before it's ready to explode out of me.
The melt downs are coming much farther apart these days. I hope it's because the grief is starting to mellow a little (although there are days I'd dispute that statement) and because I'm gaining new tools to help vent the emotions before they take control of me.
* (as I typed that last line, "Walk this Way" started playing in the background- and I smile. Only my very good friends will understand. I think it's a sign that I should end here).