I called a widow friend to check in the day after Father's Day. Knowing how difficult the day had been for myself and my children as it was the first Father's Day since their dad passed. I'm not sure what I expected by asking this question but the honesty in her response was both shocking and refreshing. "I cried for four hours."
That's what people who have experienced catastrophic loss do, they cry, they take long walks and long baths, they search for that outlet that helps their body and mind work through the pain. They put together jigsaw puzzle and scrapbook and read old journal entries while constantly composing new ones in their heads. They cry themselves to sleep while listening to the same two sad songs over and over again. Well, maybe that's not what everyone does but that's what I do.
Something I have learned about our society is that when it comes to tragedy we suck at dealing with it. The only consistent things we teach are that saying nothing is the only thing worse than saying/doing nothing and to hand someone a Kleenex when they cry.
I've learned over the past year that Kleenex have their place but there is that tears have power. Tears cleanse, tears have consistently been healing for me and they work better when I allow myself to feel them deeply and allow them to slowly make their way down my cheeks before dripping onto my body. The weight of my grief releases as they fall and after I have allowed time for them to flow freely there will be time to clean myself up, brush myself off and go again.
I often find myself wishing there was a Band-Aid type solution to my grief and in a society full of fast food and instant gratification there are things that offer temporary relief but the reality is we work through the big stuff a little at a time, day after day, allowing ourselves to feel day after day. We must choose a path of healing and while that choice may seem difficult, the other option is to bury it, avoid it and let it slowly take away our ability to feel.
When we choose to feel we put ourselves on a path to find healing and though it's a slow and painful process it is possible...at least that's what I have been told. It's been 11 months now and I have progressed from a feeling of drowning to feeling waves that occasionally knock me over. They are getting farther in-between and less intense as time goes on.