03 Jun The waves of Grief
It comes every year yet it still hits me like a truck when I wake every June 3rd. I thought 19 years later death day would be easier but the last few years it has been worse.
Grief is the monster that hides under your bed. You do not see it but you can feel it pulsating with each breath. It hides in the shadows because it is dark and dirty. It lies in wait for that time when you don’t put the light on. That time you forget because sometimes – albeit briefly – you do. You have an evening of belly laughs, surrounded by people you love. You have a warm cuddle; you get lost in a movie or book. Those few hours of peace that you have forgotten that your life isn’t this. Its not normal and it never ever will be again. That’s when the monster slithers from his hiding place and lays on you like a blanket made of bricks and blackness.
I woke heavy chested this morning, my brick blanket taken firm hold and I have done nothing. I haven’t washed last night’s dishes. I haven’t put away the clothes that are clean and folded. I haven’t showered. I haven’t home-schooled my children. In fact, I have not even spoken to them for the last two hours I do not even know what they are doing. I am just consumed in my sorrow.
I can’t have my usual long drive to our beach where we scattered her ashes so she could swim in the sea forever with the dolphins she so loved because of covid-19 and maybe that’s why it feels harder. I have just been whispering her name Natalie Thomas to myself repeatedly because her name does not get said. She is not talked about as much now. Time heals and we all move on but my family the 4 of us are still broken.
Sometimes I am quiet and I’ve gone. The sadness creeps through every fibre of my being and my husband asks what is wrong. I just need the quiet sometimes and people who have not suffered tragic, traumatic loss don’t understand. They do not see the world the same. My world used to be kaleidoscopic colours that bloomed and swelled but now I have days where it is cold and grey. I do not pick and choose these days.
The only people who know are the other members of the shittest club in the world. Unless you have lost a sibling, you cannot know. In the same way that I cannot understand how my parents feel because that grief is different to my losing a sister grief.
The biggest lesson I have learned about how to cope with grief is to let this happen. You must have these days where you drown in the loss. You have to have wide open mouth cries. You have to get angry and scream fuck you at the world. You have to hate everyone because no one understands this constant pain that clings to you. You have to stay stony faced in your silence and think nothing but the dark thoughts. You are allowed to be angry that they left you. You can scream that you wish it were you instead so you did not have to live like this.
I wish that so often, the guilt that lays on me for being the one that got to have heart surgery so I can live when it took her way. I wonder why death chose her instead when we had the same deadly condition. I wonder what I am supposed to be doing with this chance that I got and whether me plodding along earning just enough to pay my bills and keep my kids fed is really what was intended. Natalie was going to light the world on fire. She was ferocious and wild. The pressure I feel that I am letting everyone down by doing nothing spectacular was a major talking point in therapy.
That is another part of grief, the sadness is not only the side effect, PTSD has woven into my veins and I am not sure if I will ever be free from it. I still have night terrors from the events of the week Natalie died. I can sometimes smell it. I cannot describe the smell but the it is smell of death. The smell of myself and my family from days of not washing and brushing our teeth and living on tea and cigarettes. The smell of Natalie’s body in the funeral home. The smell of flowers. A florist can sometimes trigger me into a crumbling mess. Absent minded shopping – picking up presents for her at Christmas and her birthday and then bursting into tears in front of the cashier when I remember I do not need it because she is not here to unwrap them.
I am aware that this blog is a lot. You can probably see my tears and anguish as you read this and although I am probably going to be a bit embarrassed that I have laid so much bare when I wake lighter tomorrow I know that right now – even more so with the circumstances they are – there are people out there laden with grief unsure how they will make it through this.
I may not have painted a pretty picture but this is the part many people do not talk about. The shit, hard part. Not every day is like this but it is okay that you have days like this. Wallow, howl, sob, scream but don’t unpack and live there.
That is when it changes. You cannot live inside your grief. We have to keep going because we are alive. If you let the clouds of death block the sun then you are wasting this. Life really is a gift. We get to love people. We get to smile and to make others smile. We cam listen to songs, breathe in fresh air. See the waves roll back and forth. We get to drive on roads leading us to new destinations, we can experience something new every day.
That is something the grief monster cannot cover in his bitter horror, as long as you keep hold of your light.