It’s time. I’ve allowed the blog to lie idle for almost two years. It’s been necessary. It was valuable. And frankly, there really was no other option.
But it’s time. It’s time to wake up.
Here’s the thing. Grief takes time and is unique to every individual. And, perhaps fortunately, you really don’t know what it’s going to be like until you go through it.
I’ve learned a lot in my silence.
One thing I’ve discovered is that while you expect to grieve, you don’t expect that your brain will go on sabbatical. You don’t expect yourself to struggle to to work out the basics of daily existence. You don’t expect to lose things, to forget things, to find you can’t seem to figure out how to coordinate your chores and work in a logical manner. Things you typically accomplish in 30 minutes suddenly take 3 hours. You don’t expect to have zero patience, even with the people who are closest to you. Somehow you know some of that will happen, but you expect it will take just a little while—a few weeks, a few months.
For some, it might. For others, not so much. And if you happen to be one of those who needs the extra time, don’t beat yourself up about it.
You’ll eventually remember how to screw in a light bulb again.
In the meantime, it will take as long as it takes, but it will get progressively easier. I will not say that it will get “better.” That word is problematic in this context. “Easier” isn’t really any better, but there really isn’t a good word for the process. It is a process, and things will slowly stabilize.
I will not lie and tell you that each day will show improvement. That won’t happen. Some days will be easier/better than others, and there will be times when you’ll swear you’ve taken one step forward and five back. That moment in the store when you see someone who bears a resemblance to the person you’ve lost and things go grey for a few moments will still stop your heart and leave you gasping. The first time you find yourself laughing freely and genuinely over some silly something and suddenly realize that you were laughing will surprise you and leave you slightly bemused. But, over an extended period of time and with the benefit of hindsight, you’ll see a change. Give yourself the time you need. Or, simply, the time you want. In this case, they’re pretty much the same.
Another thing I’ve learned is that the cliché about time healing all wounds is just that: a cliché. And a lie. Some wounds heal and leave simple or even no scars, but others do not. Rather, they scab over so that we become better about handling their pain and living with the underlying hole. They never truly heal, but they become a part of who we are.
Sometimes those holes are puddles, but sometimes they’re canyons. They may never fill, and it’s nonsense to expect that they’ll simply go away. Instead, you’ll have to find a way to rearrange your home, your activities, your routines, your life, your thoughts, and even your heart in such a way that the hole doesn’t absorb everything else—in such a way that the hole doesn’t overwhelm and destroy the whole cloth of your life. It becomes a matter of owning the hole rather than it owning you. You have to find a way to make it part of the design of who you are, much in the same way that holes become lace in fabric, and the use of open space under stone can create a flying buttress which then adds strength as well as grace to a building.
No one can tell you how long it will take you to reach the point where you feel as if you are in control of your own life again, or where you’re finding a balance. There is no “right” answer for this, and anyone who expects you to be “back to normal” in a week or six months is an idiot. Ignore them.
Take the time you need, because here’s the other thing: that “normal” you were before the event? You will never be that same person again. That “normal” ceased to exist the moment your life was changed. How changed you are may depend on a host of things, but cut yourself some slack: you are not exactly who you were. You will still be you, but as with any other life-changing event, you will have changed. That’s why they’re called “life-changing events.” Other people may not necessarily understand that, but that’s not your problem. They’ll either adjust or they won’t.
Likewise, if you find you need help regaining that balance, then by all that is good and holy, seek it out. There is no shame involved in asking for a helping hand in all this. Somehow we have the impossibly stupid idea that we are supposed to be able to tough out everything in isolation. You cannot always talk to friends and family, and they aren’t always the folks who can be of most help. Their hearts may be in the right place, but they may not have the answers you need—or not answers, but the ability to help you come to terms with whatever is happening. If you feel as if you could benefit from help—regardless of whether that is a grief support group, a mentor/coach, counselor, psychologist, pastor or other spiritual leader—don’t hesitate to reach out. You need no justification, and you are absolutely worth it.
Grieving is a process, and it affects more things than we expect. Eventually, you’ll reach a point where you’re ready to break the threads and venture forth. That won’t necessarily mean that you’re “better” and definitely not “healed,” but rather that you’ll be able to deal with things—and people—again. Nor should you feel as if it will be a permanent state. You may find you need to return to the cocoon at intervals, and that’s ok. The world can wait until you’re up for the next excursion. Again, it’s your process.
But when you’re ready to make that trip out? Go ahead. Take a friend with you. It’s easier that way.