Joanne: Reality (Part 2 of 7)

After Gary died, there were times that I just laid on the bed with the box of ashes just grieving over that.  There are times when grief feels like you’re going through hell on earth.  Just alone, with horrible grief.  I remember saying to my sister a week after Gary’s funeral that I was so afraid I was going to forget him; forget what he looked like and everything about him.

I was absolutely devastated when he died.

Grief is EXHAUSTING.  It was an absolutely exhausting period of life.  Grief affected my memory and I had a very hard time focusing on things.  I remember driving places and I couldn’t remember getting there.  I would sometimes walk into a room and not remember why I was there.  I knew I had gone there for something, but I couldn’t remember what.  It was crazy.  

I didn’t realize that would happen.

There were times that I really thought I was losing my mind and that I wouldn’t ever feel or act ‘normal’ again.  And that really characterized living for the first year for me after Gary died.

I’d been involved in some worship planning and committee work at church and I finally got to the point that I just couldn’t handle that then.  While it was good for me to be busy, I could sit for hours trying to think of how to put things together and it just wouldn’t come together. I had to be done.  

I needed time for me.  Time to grieve.

I had to shut down his business and get so many things in order after he died and I needed to focus on that and I just couldn’t do the extra work at church that I’d previously found joy in.

Looking back on this period I can see things a bit more clearly.  That’s what time has done for me:  given me some clarity.

I understand better now that sometimes it’s hard for people to understand you and what you need to do or who you need to be following a loss -- but that’s all right.  Even my pastor had said that he didn’t realize how much I was grieving -- but really, if you haven’t gone through this, you’re not going to get it.  I understand that.

Looking back now I can see that it was good to mourn and wail and grieve; I can see now that you have to let it out and not hold it in!

When I was really grieving or angry I found that it was helpful for me to write that out. I would write on his Carepage off and on, every now and then. I know it’s not what everyone needs to do but it helped me during some really dark days.

I also learned that the forgetfulness I struggled with is just normal.

Everyone has their own normal and nothing is right or wrong.  Grief is a personal thing.  Some people clear out the closet the next week and are done; others hold onto things for years and years and years.  Everyone’s different and everyone needs to figure out what is best for them.  Letting yourself grieve is healthy and necessary and that looks different for everyone.

What was/is normal for you?  What did you find you needed to do in order to grieve in a healthy way?