Grief’s Milestones

The first year of grieving is difficult, not just because the wounds to the heart and mind are so raw and the void where the loved one resided so dark, but because it is a year of firsts. And each of these firsts comes with a renewal of pain.

We — my life mate and I — did not celebrate our birthdays. We merely recognized them as a tally mark for another year gone by. Because of this, I had not expected to feel any deeper sadness today — his birthday — than I felt yesterday or the day before, but grief knows no logic. It doesn’t matter that we never celebrated his birthday — that was his choice. But that he is not here to make that choice does matter, and so I’m dealing with an upsurge of grief. We will no longer be marking his years. He will never grow older. Perhaps next year I will be able to let the day pass without making a big deal of it, but today is a first. One of grief’s milestones. His first birthday after death.

I know these days of refreshed pain are important. Too often I keep myself busy to minimize the pain, and there is no effective way to get around true grieving but to feel the pain and go through it. Or so I’ve been told. Reconnecting with the pain is also a way of reconnecting to him. The faster I go through the grief process, the further I get from him. The farther I get from him.

The earth hurtles around the sun at 67,000 mph. The sun hurtles around the galaxy at 140 miles per second. The entire universe is also moving and expanding, so today we are a very long way from where we were when he died. (Considering only the speed of the earth, he died 165,356,000 miles ago.)

And, considering only the surface distance, I am almost 1000 miles from where we lived. We planted trees and bushes around the house to keep it cool and to give us privacy, and that green world seems a million miles from the desert where I am staying now.

So, today I am celebrating his birthday, if only with my grief, because it helps me bridge the distance.