When I think back to my experience with grief, I’m always brought into the first few days to a few weeks after. The normality of time shifts and with my experience brings additional factors, he was Jewish and the whole process was quick, different from what I was used to though I think it helped in healing.
My friend had a muscular dystrophy disease (a weakening and break down of skeletal muscles over time) and was always going to die early, so in a sense, I was grieving before he went into the ground. His quality of life changed so drastically in the last few months that he wasn’t happy but wanted to stick around, I had deep gratitude and relief that finally, he had peace. Above all I always wanted him to have happiness, that’s what I told him at hospital trips, it didn’t come in the form of constant suction and tubes.
I have written about this before in this post and in more descriptive detail in an ongoing project. As these feelings have resurfaced due to a new family member going in a very similar way, I’ve decided to write here too.
Though if you’re not ready to read about any of this, just wait. It takes time to heal.
Until his passing I had no idea how HARD grief was for people, with grief though came a lot of gratitude, that’s what I held onto.
After crying so much your dehydrated, shouting and swearing on lone car journeys WHY did this have to happen WHO THE F**** AM I GOING TO TALK TO NOW HUH? Mentally having conversations with someone no longer present almost convinced you’re crazy. Then comes gratitude and appreciation for all you had with that person. But it’s a process, you have to go through some stuff first.
I remember coming home after work, driving down the motorway listening to Kirtan trying to keep myself together. Processing that tomorrow wasn’t just a day off anymore, it was a funeral and asked my mum to find me anything black because all I had at the time was a low cut dress and I needed to cover up in a Synagogue.
It’s incredible how time and shock really affect you, over five days all I remember is eating a vegetarian pie, refusing a hug, getting my first MOT done and sitting at a cafe talking it over with my dad. I may have gone running as I often do to channel frustration and done yoga. I definitely made it to my meditation space each morning, that’s when I really got mad at God all over again and breathed, thankful for him being in my life at all.
Because that is what it came down to, I could be sad and complain and miss him so much but really, I could be thankful for him being in my life at all.
Out of all the possible circumstances and people life could bring, I had this amazing person and what a gift!
I thought back to my first journey cycling round a roundabout thinking about my new job in healthcare, what had I let myself in for? If I’d had known that it involved a whole range of conditions that I had to learn as I went, I probably would have taken the forth exit home. Some things you have to experience, be a part of, show up to appreciate life.
I talked it over with a friend how spiritually I got it Yogically and Sikhi too, a person dies, person soul departs their physical body and they have merged once again with God. Or heaven if you believe that. However, when it actually happens to a living being you talk to on a regular basis and have developed a relationship with, it’s HARD. Things get blurred and meanings waver, welcome to grief, a completely natural process.
Two resources that helped at the time were Louise Hay’s quotes especially ‘Choose gratitude over sorrow’ as when I counted all the things I was grateful for, they outnumbered all I was sad about. I could do one positive thing for myself at a time. A little further on also the book Dying to be me by Anita Mooranji, who I found out from another great self-help author with a twist of spirituality on about every aspect of life, Wayne Dyer. I had mentioned it briefly to my friend as she talks about all the peace she experienced when she died (then returned.)
Whatever spiritual practice you do is highly encouraged too, in fact, I was still developing mine at the time so I just said thank you. I said it in every room (which in the workplace was every damn room as he moved his chair everywhere) and in my leisure time too because it gave me peace of mind. Had I been practicing my Sikhi further along then I would have said Waheguru (wonderous enlightener/God). I even spoke to someone recently who said, even if you’re saying it in haste, anger, despair, at least your saying it.
What I’m getting to is that although grief is hard, it brings a new perspective.
As I often felt so raw, I saw beauty in ordinary moments. I experienced in that being vulnerable you allow yourself to be true but know rationality too. You live the Glennon Doyle Melton phrase brutiful (beautiful and brutal) and going through all of that, accept with grace the things you cannot change.