I've tried to write about this several times but it never seemed to come out just right. But I need to say it, because it's always in the background no matter what else I post here, so today I'll just put it out there, imperfections and all.
I thought I was coping with grief quite well as the one-year anniversary of my husband's death passed in January. But as March turned into April and then into May, I noticed I was spending more and more time on YouTube (my version of TV or movies), trying to distract myself from increasing sadness, and as soon as I'd stop, I'd get weepy and exhausted and unable to do anything I didn't absolutely have to do, including work I had pending for my employer.
It took me a couple of months to notice the pattern -- a couple of months of hearing my inner voice tell me I was lazy and weak and useless -- but eventually a comment from my son made me realize maybe I am still coping with a lot of stress, what with my mom's dementia and a number of other things including my own health that I have been dealing with.
After that conversation, I knew I needed to somehow reduce the stress and start dealing with my feelings.
I decided to try the often-repeated advice to write about my feelings every day, and surprise! (or maybe not), that has helped a great deal. Never underestimate the power of getting stuff out, even if no one else will ever see or hear it. I also take note, in writing, of what I accomplish every day, so I can see I'm not being a total slacker.
I also follow a writer on grief on Facebook. He posts daily and writes from his own experiences with grief. His writings have been very helpful to me by putting into words what I am feeling, and, in doing so, validating that the things I'm feeling are natural. It is easy to question that, believe it or not.
Less helpful was a different Facebook group for those who have lost spouses. Most of the folks on it are nearly incapacitated by their grief, whether it's new or from decades ago, and I found it made me feel worse, so I stopped reading. For some folks, it would work, but not for me.
So, the bottom line is that I am learning that I can't let up on processing the sadness or it will overwhelm me again. By processing, I mean acknowledging it and feeling it so I can move forward until the next time it hits. Which it will. I am learning, too, that mending from grief doesn't mean striving to never have grief or sadness about my loss again; instead, it means being able to feel both joy and sadness, sometimes one after the other, separated by days or weeks or just minutes, and sometimes at the very same time. Maybe this is obvious to other people, but it was something I had to learn.
Another thing I am noticing is that, although it may sound odd after so long, the finality of my husband's death is still capable of knocking me down. You'd think I'd be used to the thought by now, but I'm still finding it hard to fully believe that I will never see, hear, or hold him ever again. It just doesn't seem possible that someone who was such a part of me and my life for so long simply no longer exists except in memory. This is a time when it is hard to be an atheist. It would be comforting to believe in life after death, but I do not. And that's okay. But it's still hard.
I don't want this to be a sad post, because I do feel better now than I was feeling the last couple of months.
Everyone on the planet has been stressed by the pandemic and by world events, so if you notice your own energy level has been lower than usual, or it's been harder to get stuff done, show yourself some grace and understanding that this is a frigging weird and often hard time to be alive.
Now, let's have some smiles.
Wishing you all a good week :)