I’ve heard grief described as swimming in an ocean…just as you come up for air and think all is calm, another wave hits you, knocking you under for another tumble. I think this is a very accurate analogy, especially during those initial days of shock when your heart and mind are trying to decipher this impossible information like a child attempting to comprehend hieroglyphics. I think I was fairly prepared for this portion, although I did not care at all for the sudden blinding pain of being smacked in the face with those huge stinging swells.
What has come more of a surprise to me; however, is that grief is not content to scurry on its way after the plundering, but instead decides to take up residence like an over-extended house guest. It often sits in the corner pretending to be politely staying out of the way so you can go about your business, then suddenly you notice it clinging to your coattails, weighing you down until you give in to its cloying and focus all your unwilling attention on it.
Oddly, what I have found in recent days is that giving in to its persistent tug has a surprisingly contradictory effect. I thought that giving in meant that it would overtake me and somehow swallow me whole so I could never escape it. Instead, I have found that the confrontation soon shrinks the size of the monster considerably until I actually find comfort in the cleanse of fresh tears. A few moments later, tears of sadness transform into tears of happiness over welcome memories of secrets shared and successes celebrated. Soon a burst of laughter escapes me as a particularly funny moment resurfaces, as fresh and joyful as when it originally occurred. It is in this moment that I realize I do not need to continue playing an unending game of hide and seek with Grief. That in fact, Grief is indeed my friend, albeit a bit bipolar in the emotional swings it carries me on, but a necessary companion on this journey nonetheless.
In the coming weeks and months, I will try to remind myself that although most days I would prefer not to host this guest, soon enough the visits will diminish and in the wake I will find myself a little more wise and kind and a lot more grateful for every moment I am graced to share with the family and friends I hold dear.