Monday, October 13, 2008


I was reminded yesterday that grief is a process. A friend of mine has been having a hard time lately with a lot of things in her life. I don't think most people really understand grief.

I lost my daughter, Amanda, to cancer almost 5 years ago. The overwhelming grief that followed nearly swallowed me whole. I went to bed for over a year. I really didn't have much in the way of emotional support during that time either. My brothers and my mom called regularly, but they don't live here. They are more than 400 miles away. There wasn't much they could do for me from that distance. So I was left with the people I lived with. That was my husband and my kids. My husband shut down and my kids were not responsible for my emotional well-being. So I fell in the hole.

One of the things I realized after I "recovered" was that during the worst of it, my judgment of others was seriously off. I became friends with someone who thought they could help me. At least, that's what she said. I didn't find this out until it was almost too late. My husband and I had separated and I had gone to my mom's to help her with her mom because G'ma was dying. Right before that, I moved into this person's house as I had nowhere else to go. My kids still lived here so I didn't want to move away. She resented the fact that I went to my mom's house and to G'ma's funeral. All of this pushed me farther down the hole. A few months later, I reconciled with my husband and left that house. Getting out of there was one of the best decisions I ever made.

Although that's been almost 3 years ago and I am much better, the grief is still just under the surface. I will be going along with life as I know it and I feel pretty good, but there are moments when the rush of emotion will get the better of me. Yesterday, the need to hide and cry was so overwhelming I almost felt as though it could swallow me. I don't know what set it off, I just know it was bad. I think this is normal for anyone who has experienced a major loss in their life.

For those of you who think I'm just talking about the loss of a child, I am not. It could be the loss of a best friend, spouse, or family member. Those losses can be very profound and I would never assume that the grief would be easier than I had it. I don't know everyone else's experiences in life so I can't say that.

What I can tell you is this. If you let the grief so overwhelm you that you can't see the way out of the hole, it will swallow you. What helped me was a simple thought that ran through my head one day. I realized that by keeping myself from living and experiencing life, I was doing a great disservice to Amanda. She was so full of life and love that I was negating what she gave us. She taught us to enjoy life no matter the circumstances and accept the little things as precious. I wish everyone could see and accept that.


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