When I think back to the last few months of my life, and remember the deep, heavy grief I lived with for months on end, the first adjectives that come to mind are: sodden, heavy, wet, drenched, marooned, but not drowned. I didn’t drown.
A grief councillor told me two weeks ago that we heal at our own individual pace, but that it starts second by second, then minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day, week by week, month by month, and so on.
If I think of my grief this way, and it resonates with me (I felt like the world was throwing me off – life just wasn’t a real, tangible thing. My life was worthless without Henry), I see myself in an endless lake. I’m in the middle, vertical. Static, unmoving. The sky is grey, water is murky and grey. I don’t care what might be swimming underneath. In fact, I wished something would just drag me down under so the pain would stop. Even for a minute. Please?
After seconds, minutes, hours, days, weeks, months – I realize there’s been a canoe next to me the entire time. I didn’t know it was there or who put it there, and I never looked around where I had been floating upright, with the water tickling my nostrils, and never fully submerged for long. I didn’t want to see what was around me, and I didn’t need to, but suddenly – canoe!
I don’t want to escape – don’t need to retreat or leave the deep, dark lake, but I get in the canoe. I feel like I’ve been paddling in the canoe, no destination in mind, no destination desired. I’m not as heavy as I started out. Not as soggy. I can lift my head. I can rotate by body. I certainly couldn’t before.
I have shed sentimentality, shyness, and even some patience. If you’re a whiner – a complainer – I have no time for you, and I won’t even waste my time telling you I have no time for you. I have sloughed off a loose skin that was ultra-sensitive. Floating in the water has helped me transform in certain ways, tightened up, like a rock with many faces. I adore, love stronger, and I shove off stronger. That’s what my grief has done for my life, for better or for worse. And I don’t feel guilty any more for feeling joy.
How has grief transformed you?