Grief is an odd and quirky thing.
It comes and goes in and out of our lives like the eb and flow of the ocean tides. There's no stopping it. No avoiding it. It makes itself known and demands our attention. We can try to avoid it, but it will only build and eventually boil over or even combust. It's like I've said for a long time now, pain demands to be felt. And grief is a type of pain.
These last several months have really been difficult. When I say difficult, it's been a real shit show. We lost our furbaby Jibby last March. Then we had a slew of crazy shit happen - the well pump going bad, then we almost got carbon monoxide poisoning from a bad furnace in our house, my hubby's truck dying in the middle of the highway, my own vehicle having break issues and a slew of other things.
Then the real bad stuff came. In early October of last year my son and father in law got into an accident. My son was okay, but Dad, not so much. He passed away 3 days before my birthday on November 21st. There was no celebrating... I didn't have it me. And I know that Dad wouldn't have wanted tears and feeling down, depression and grief. But, it came and has stayed all the same.
Then, just 7 days ago, we lost our beloved furbaby Pan... It was so completely unexpected. It has left me breathless and taken the life right out me.
Sometimes, we just don't get to choose what or how we're going to feel.
How ironic, because my husband and I frequently tell our kids, "you're in control of your emotions - you get to choose how you're going to act". Having gone through so much in such a short amount of time.... I'd say differently now. We're not always in control of our emotions. We don't get to choose what we're going to feel with any given situation. Especially when it's something so unexpected. Yes, a lot of the time we can choose how we're going to act or react. But even that is not a definite. We can try, and that's all we can do.
Losing Dad was not unexpected because even before the accident he had been sick for many years. But the loss of him from our lives... still has not been easy. He was a pillar. He just kept going. He would have put the Energizer Bunny to shame. I legitimately watched that man's arm get pulled out of socket by a bull, and then he refused to go to the hospital until the bull was in the barn and secured. I watched him time and time again get back up and just keep going. That's how he was - nothing was going to stop him ever. Period. But nobody can keep going like that, and nobody avoids death. It's just part of the cycle of life.
But even understanding this about life and death, Pan's death still knocked me for a loop. We haven't even really healed from losing Dad, and now Pan? How? Why? It doesn't make any sense. Life just seems so unfair and cruel at times...
How does one move forward with so much loss, pain and grief present?
I don't think there is a universal answer my loves. The path of grief is very personal and looks different for everyone. Therefore, I can only speak from my own experiences. Which especially in this department are vast and too many to count.
I used to hold everything in. Living in the household that I grew up in, I had to. Plus, that's what we were "taught". Button it up. Just deal with it. Stop crying or I'll give you something to cry about. I think you get the picture. As a result, I never felt safe expressing myself or showing my emotions. After leaving that toxic place and many years of unlearning those toxic behaviors, I don't really hold much back anymore. Communication for me is key, and very much so part of all of my healing.
So for me, especially when it comes to grief, I have to allow myself to feel everything, in it's full capacity and sit with it. Because if I lock it all away, if I bury it and try to hide it, it turns into turmoil, anger and eventually rage. Yes, anger is part of the healing process, but the anger I'm talking about when I try to bury things.... volatile and dangerous. Simply put, that's just not healthy. So I allow myself to feel it all, going through the memories, crying, taking time for me as I need it - in whatever form that may look like. Whether it be baths and showers, having some of my favorite comfort foods, listening to music, watching movies, I feel it out and allow myself that space to do what I feel is needed for me. Another huge piece of this for me is not being afraid to show my emotions in front of others. If I cry in front of people, I cry. I'm human too, as are we all, and sometimes we just need a good cry. And that's perfectly okay.
Presently, I'm going back and forth in between waves of huge emotions. I'll be fine for a while, doing whatever I'm doing and then a memory floats up and boom - waterworks. It's all part of grieving. So I'm riding the wave. But that is how I allow myself to heal, by riding the waves and doing for me what is needed most in these moments.
I can't say that I have the answer for everyone, or even anyone else at all. But I can say this - whatever path you choose in working through your grief, allow yourself some space and grace. Take comfort where you can find it (in healthy ways). Grief and how we process it is different for us all. But don't be afraid to reach out when it feels like too much. We all need support here and there, and that's okay too.