Beyond the Blank Page

My Journey to Telling the Untold

A Time of Grief

on April 13, 2016

Grief doesn’t know time. It can be one day since your loss, one month, or one year and there is no telling what you may be feeling. We live in a world that mourns with us for a time. Anyone, especially someone close to us, learns about our loss and immediately wants to be there for us. Unfortunately, only those directly impacted by the grief realize that it continues to go on. My dad was not the first loved one that I have lost, but he was the closest. There is nothing like losing a parent, especially at such a young age.

For the first week or two everyone was so concerned about me and what I must be going through. At that point, I was still in shock. I walked around as if everything were more or less okay, because my body was protecting me from the truth. I was more concerned with how my other loved ones were doing because it gave me some sort of purpose and something to do if I could worry about them rather than myself. I went back to classes as normal, I got caught up on homework, and I tried to return to life as “normal.” About three weeks after my dad died I went in to get a tattoo in memory of him. My artist told me that, in her experience, it is at about a month when the numbness wears off and you start to realize what has happened. Sure enough, four to five weeks after his passing, the reality began to set in.

Each day would hurt a little more. I remembered my grandma that had Alzheimer’s and how she had to be reminded daily of the loved ones she had lost, until eventually it became easier to not tell her. That is how I felt. I would forget that my dad had died. I even wondered at one point if he would come to his own memorial before it hit me what I was thinking. I’d see good gift ideas for him and movies that I knew he would like. Every time my phone rang I thought it would be him, because he was one of the only people that called instead of texting. It was impossible to not think about the very long walk I will have someday without him by my side, or the fact that I won’t have him to dance to “Butterfly Kisses” with. The pain continued to grow, even causing me physical discomfort. That pain still continues to grow as reality continues to hit me more every day.

Classes became difficult to attend again and I lost all desire to be around people. My professors didn’t become mean in any way, but the once very concerned and understanding people seemed almost as if they had forgotten what I was going through. I almost left one of my classes in tears because my professor grew irritated with me for letting one of my peers take the lead on a debate that I wasn’t up to doing. My allotted two week period had passed and I was supposed to be normal again.

But that isn’t how this works. Each night I go to bed wondering if I will be able to get out of bed in the morning and drag myself to class. Each time I make plans I wonder if I will be able to keep them. I walk around in a fog, hardly remembering what time it is or even what day. To be honest, the apathy stage of grief has kicked in and I often don’t really care. Tomorrow doesn’t matter when I can hardly get through today.

When I don’t go to class I worry that my professors will be upset with me which fuels my desire to not go. Each time I have to cancel plans I worry about the reaction. There seems to be no win. I can embrace my pain and worry about taking care of myself – something I’m trying really hard to get better at – or I can worry about everyone around me and what they’re thinking because they don’t understand. Both options cause me anxiety. The logical part of my brain knows that the worst that can happen grade wise is Bs and Cs instead of As and Bs. It also knows that true friends will stand by me. Unfortunately I’ve never been great at listening to the logical part of my brain when the emotional part begs for my attention.

I am sure that I am guilty of having done this very same thing to those around me, and I apologize if I ever did. I also want to point out that not everyone falls into this category. Over the last couple days I have had two friends specifically check in on me, which meant the world to me.

7 weeks have passed, but I’m no further along than if only one day had passed. I take a very long time to process things, and that means holding tight while my grief continues to be very raw and real. The way I see it, don’t expect a grieving person to be any more okay weeks or months later than they were the day after. Some will be, but some won’t. Some may just be starting the process and some may be stuck. To put simply: be gentle. With yourself. With others. You don’t have to understand to be understanding.

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