Grief is an emotional, mental, physical, gut-wrenching, life-changing, soul-shattering, struggle. Grief is endless nights of cat-naps but blessed relief if unconsciousness actually happens so that the missing-ness can temporarily recede into nothingness. Grief is getting up one more day and appearing normal on the outside (not because you’re trying to appear normal but because you just weirdly appear normal in spite of) while the insides, right behind the eyes and right underneath your skin, are churning with the debris brought ashore by the tsunami that killed your life.
Is that over-stating it?
Family begins arriving today. Our niece, Stephanie, who has been busily traveling the world, comes in from California, her first port of call after months in SouthEast Asia. Tomorrow Fireman Nick and SugaPie fly in from Connecticut.
The reason? Monday marks the one year point since Handsome Husband died. Each stroke of the alphabet as I type that three-letter number slices into me. The cognizance that one year just passed doesn’t make this time more painful to me; it makes it only more surreal to me.
Friends will join us at Bell Rock in Sedona, Arizona on Sunday for a ritual to remember Handsome Husband. Not everyone will be there-life interferes with no accommodation for sadness. My step-daughter has 2 children to tend, with the attendant school and care issues so she’ll adjust the time difference (she’s in Vermont) and remember from afar with us. Our NJ peeps, Bruce and Mary Ann, and so many others there…same thing. All around the country, they’ll be remembering with us.
Words fail me (in spite of how much I’ve been writing recently). At some point grief reaches such a saturation point that there is nothing left to say and silence falls. I think back and remember this happening when my brother and mom died. After 6 months, after 1 year, what is left to say? It becomes repetitious. I’m sad, I’m grieving, I’m desperate, I’m lonely, I can’t stand this life, I’m lost. Understandably (but no less annoyingly) the general public starts to look at you and think “depressed”. Cue the threatening music.
Grief is so much not depression and to name it that is condescending and dismissive and it also leads to the easy fix of medication. (No, I’m not dissing medication as a personal decision. I keep homeopathic remedies on hand to help me through the worst of it; I’m just not going to get myself involved in prescriptive medication). By its’ very definition, grief means a lack of. Lack of focus, lack of sleep (though sleeping too much also happens), lack of joy, lack of patience, lack of most of what used to be.
Primarily, lack of the one who died. Lack of their love, lack of their touch, lack of…them.
And it takes time to adjust, time to build a new life, time to find your feet underneath you so that you can build that new life. Not one year, very often not two years. Whatever time it takes. You can’t just lay about and wait for it to happen though. You have to get out there and do it, in spite of. Which I’m doing.
Grief is a seesaw of emotions and not because emotions veer back and forth. At least in my case, I’ve found that my emotions are fairly stable, in that there is nothing but pain as a baseline. It’s a seesaw because we must search out balance again. We must plant our feet in the middle of that seesaw, moving our weight from side to side until both ends level. Not an easy job in any way.
On Sunday, at Bell Rock, I’ll play music to celebrate Handsome Husband and we’ll all dance and I invite you, dear readers, wherever you are, to join us at 3 pm and dance your own dance. Dance with us as we remember a man who touched our lives, and touched so many lives because of us. Dance with me as I shout my love, and defiance of the death that took my most beloved husband from me last year on April 21. Dance with me and our kids and our family and our friends and shout out your love for those who left you behind but also left so much love behind.
Dance it out. Shout it out. Love it out.