From the moment you wake up until you crawl into bed at night, what is it like to live with grief?
It has only been 2 weeks (16 days technically) since losing my dad, and each day takes on a new face to be completely honest. This is what my grief was like today:
Wake up to the sound of my 2 year old singing in her room, open my eyes and feel normal for half a second until I rub the sleep out of my eyes and remember that this is my life and I did in fact just lose my dad.
Contemplate waking my husband up to take care of the girls so I can fall back asleep. Sleeping is wonderful because either 1) you don’t have to feel or 2) there is the possibility I will see him in my dreams. I decide to get up and know that my dad would want me to enjoy every possible moment with my girls just like he did when he had the opportunity to be with them.
We do our morning ‘normals’ in hopes that O wont sense my sadness and feel like its a normal day in our home. We walk downstairs and the photos of my wedding in the stair well are like a smack in the face of reality yet again. I’ve only been awake for 15 minutes. Choking back the tears is sometimes possible and others there is no way around it. Thankfully this morning I kept my composure.
Downstairs I try to feel ‘normal’ and do normal things like straighten and play with sweet O. I begin thinking about my mom, knowing she is off today and most likely laying in the bed she shared with her husband for 30 years. My heart breaks a little more. I wonder if I should call and realize I am too emotional and the last thing I want is to make her own grieving process harder with an inconsolable daughter who is a blubbering mess on the other end of the phone. Plus, if shes sleeping I don’t want to wake her because I know she isn’t sleeping well at night.
I hear the baby stirring on the monitor and we trek upstairs to say our good mornings, this is my favorite part of the day. I talk to myself the entire way up those stairs and remind myself that its ok to be happy, to feel happiness, to have joy in life. It doesn’t mean I am not grieving or that I didn’t love my dad or that I am not sad. Its almost like chanting in my head I have to say it so many times.
I let myself feel joy. I tell myself this is normal. I allow myself to be free for a moment from the sadness that is my life. I tell myself that my LIFE isn’t grief, that its because of a loss IN my life that I FEEL grief. I don’t believe it this particular morning but say it anyway. I see my two girls greeting one another and playing and sit on the bed in the spare room.
The bed my dad slept on for a week in April when he visited our home for the last time.
It all comes back again. Those 5 grief-free minutes I allowed myself feel like they happened weeks ago because the pain comes back that much stronger. Part of me wants to lay in that bed all day, hoping to touch a place he touched or lay on the same pillows he did.
The chaos of the morning begins, getting the girls dressed and ready, myself at least presentable since I did promise my husband I would brush my teeth daily. I have a meeting with a friend from Church around 10 so that should keep me occupied for at least 2 hours, then grocery shopping, swing by the ATM, get gas in my car, etc.
All normal things that make even the saddest of people feel normal when you are doing them.
And then you get home. And it all comes back. Not necessarily the way it did earlier in the day, in different forms.
Sometimes such pain you physically feel paralyzed and like you cant speak or move.
Sometimes like you just need to sob and cry the ugly cry and you don’t care whose around.
Sometimes like you just want to be alone and stare off into space for an hour, or six.
Sometimes like you want to look at pictures and start working on the quilt of his old clothes you have yet to begin because physically touching his things feels like too much.
I call my mom after thinking about it 20 times throughout the day and hearing the pain in her voice even if shes having a ‘good moment’ just kills me.
We chat about our afternoon, I ask if she called social security and she talked about picking out a headstone for his grave.
I feel like I am living in some crazy dream. How could I seriously be talking to my own mother about things like death certificates and life insurance? This cant be real. 6 weeks ago we were chatting about the girls birthday party plans. The party that my dad and I had planned for the 27th. That was yesterday.
Its real alright.
I cant control the tears and cracking of my voice and just pour out my heart, knowing that my mom loves me even when I am a blubbering mess and vice versa. The fact that I cant reach out and hug her puts such a sting on my heart that has been lingering off and on for the last 6 weeks. I feel guilty for moving to Arizona 4 years ago and starting a family because it means that in this horrible time off sadness I cant be close to her.
I meant to call her to bring her comfort. Shit. What have I done?
The rest of the day I am numb, half dazed and confused sitting on the patio while the girls play and eat popsicles. I occasionally open my eyes enough to see them and take part in their laughter, even snap a few pictures but quickly feel guilt for being happy.
Unnecessary arguments with my husband because we are both emotionally drained, spiritually thirsty and physically exhausted. Hurtful words exchanged out of the pain we are feeling, guilt for neglecting our marriage because honestly how can we have time for any of that in the midst of this all-consuming grief.
Guilt that my mom wont have that argument today.
Random texts to family and friends about emotions I am feeling as they come up. Responses back with empathy or advice or scriptures. I am so thankful for technology. I start to flip through old texts I had with my dad and stop myself. Not today.
Dinner with my sister and brother-in-law, 2 solid hours where I felt safe to talk about my dad and express my sadness, comfort in knowing that she knows the feelings all to well because she went down this road 9 years ago when they lost their dad.
I’m not sure what it is but its like you have an unspoken bond with others who have experienced a similar grief, especially with daughters who have lost their fathers. Something about the fact that God blessed us with two daughters and I get to sit back and watch the relationships that my husband builds with them grow gives me so much peace. I think that even if God only gave my husband 30 years with his two girls just how much can evolve over that time, how much they can learn from him and he from them.
And here I sit. My GriefShare book open on my lap, phone quietly humming texts that come through from my ever amazing family and friends. I am still asking myself how I got here, asking why, and knowing that more than anything I need to give it all to Him as I lay my head on this pillow tonight.