This morning I felt the burning, aching, sting of tears fill my eyes for the first time in weeks. I’ve been on a plain of functioning, distracted grief that kept me too busy to focus on any deeply rooted thoughts of longing. But as with griefs true nature, the tide comes back in eventually.
This is a hard concept for those “outside” this glass house to grasp. While grief in general is constant, it’s waves are not. There’s a reason so many compare it to the expanse of the ocean. There is the calmness, when you can carry on in the smoothness of the “in between”. The vastness of time between the storms. There is the roughness you can see coming from afar. The dates, anniversaries, moments that mark monumental. You see the storm before it arrives and you prepare for that battle. Then there are the crushing, sudden, unexpected, and unexplained grief attacks. These are the rogue waves, that engulf you out of nowhere and swallow you in darkness for only brief periods, yet leave you battered and feeling as if they’ve consumed all time.
Last night, in one of those rogue waves, I found myself attempting to finally read through some of the thousands of messages from familiars and strangers alike that flooded in during those first days, weeks, and months. It was a sort of immersion therapy. Both necessary, and triggering. I ended up having to stop, step back, and decide I was still not ready. I may never be, but I tried.
The weekend marked eight months of this pattern, eight months of this ebb and flow. Sloan felt this earth, my skin, his daddy’s beard, his brother’s arms, tangibly for only seven months. Last month I discussed the realization that he’s now been gone longer than he was here. The emotional turmoil that comes with that fact is ongoing, the date marking that juxtaposition ushered in a new kind of before and after. It’s harshness will never quiet. This is a storm of heartbreaking comprehension that I could see coming before last month, but it’s rogue waves are still rising up and crashing down here and there.
I think the most important thing to remember for those who wish to empathize with us… is that grief is not of any of our control. While we have a great understanding of most of its patterns, we cannot always predict when we might be consumed in its grasp. These are the times to be even more patient and gentle with us, to remind yourself that our behavior in these periods is just a method of coping. Some of us can do so without it being overt, others cannot. Be patient with whichever response we choose.