As we embark upon a new year in less than 24 hours it would be hoo of us all to realize WE ALL STILL MAY NOT MAKE IT TO SEE 12:00 a.m. 1/1/21. It is an unfortunate truth that many do not realize until it is actually in front of you. Death, is a crazy vibe in itself, but what about those that are left to pick up the pieces they left behind such as: kid(s), loved ones, friends, family and perhaps even a spouse. Everyone does not experience grief the same even though it is noted that the five stages of grief are: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and finally Acceptance. I must say contrary to popular belief these stages are not always lineal and most often even ricochet over and over. Like a scorching pain shooting up your leg from hitting your knee against an end table, the sensation is both surprisingly hurtful and all you seem to be able to think about is when it will end.
The short answer to that question is: Never. This may not be what you wanted to hear but I do have great news, IT DOES GET BETTER!!! NO REALLY!! IT DOES…but it comes with time and everyone’s timeline is different. When I lost my father in 2018 at Duke Hospital in Raleigh to Acute Myeloid Leukemia I felt as though my life had just crashed and burned. All of a sudden I felt an overwhelming sense of fear! I know this sounds awkward but remember I said “Everyone does not experience grief the same”. I still remember what I was doing, what I was wearing, where I was and when I got the call that my father was no longer here in the physical form. I seemed to go through denial and anger instantly, skipped bargaining and went straight to depression before an overwhelming fear shuttered through my blood. I entered a state of delirium and even forgot that I was at home, I lost track of everything and felt like I was in the middle of a really horrible dream. It was not until I felt the phone still in my hand, the tears soaking my shirt and heard a voice that was screaming to the top of their lungs in an ear shattering anguish that I realized it was coming from my own throat, in my own home and I was not waking up because I had never fell asleep.
The most important thing to understand as you move past your hurt is that LIFE GOES ON and it’s O.K. While it may not be going on still for your loved one YOURS DOES. This is not to sound callus or lacksadazical in any way because I too must remind myself often, sometimes even daily. When the day your loved one passed on comes around you anticipate it and the depression and sadness it brings along in its purse. You can’t imagine EVER forgetting the day….until you do. As time and life goes on you may even find yourself forgetting the event of the day altogether and ACTUALLY have fun. The next day or days after you look at the calendar and a jolt of sickness hits you like the feeling you get when you realize you left your card in the ATM and you are now home! You forgot!!! You lived your life and didn’t even think about the depression you were supposed to have!! You took your kids out to eat, bought a new purse and even had sex!!! How dare you!!
Hopefully, you understood how sarcastic I was trying to be. I don’t mean to sound cliché but do you think your loved one would want you to be that way? If so you probably shouldn’t be experiencing grief at all, perhaps something different. You did NOT forget about your loved one, you may even still think about them daily. Your heart and spirit is now trying to place that person with you eternally and not on such a shallow level as exact dates that will no longer be celebrated the same. There is absolutely nothing wrong with saying to yourself “They will NEVER be forgotten…but I’m moving on”.