Grief’s Growing Pains

I often walk in the desert, finding solace (and exercise) among the rocky knolls and creosote bushes. Sometimes I even find a bit of enlightenment. And so it was today.

From the beginning (odd how I always refer to my onset of grief as the “beginning,” when that time seemed to be all about “endings”), I tried to break grief down into its various components to demystify it and make it more manageable . When grief is new, one is bombarded with so many emotions, physical responses, and mental gymnastics that it is almost impossible to see/know/feel what is happening. As time passes and the bombardment slows, it’s easier to separate the feelings into categories and deal with them. As time continues to pass, some of the components of grief dissipate (such as the panic, the need to scream, the confusion) and some disappear (such as the nausea, dizziness, difficulty breathing, inability to eat or inability to stop eating). But always is the knowledge that the world is forever altered because your loved one is dead.

Now twenty months have passed since my life mate/soul mate died, and that awareness of his being dead is the part of grief I have the hardest time with. I miss him and yearn desperately for one more word from him, one more smile, but I can deal with that now — I’ve mostly grown used to it. I can also remember him and our shared life without breaking down. I can deal with what life throws at me even though he is no longer by my side. And I’m learning to deal with the loneliness and the aloneness. But what I can’t deal with is his being dead. That is where my mind hits a wall and causes so much pain I start crying.

I few days ago I wrote in my Grief Doesn’t Take a Holiday blog: He is gone, and there is nothing I can do about it. I keep
re-realizing those two simple facts. I do not think our brains are wired to understand the sheer goneness of death. Someone emailed me not long ago, expressing her admiration that I can talk about grief without feeling sorry for myself, but honestly, except for isolated moments, which I refuse to feed, I don’t feel sorry for myself. A lot of grief has to do with the mind disconnect that happens when you realize your loved one is no longer here on earth. It’s as if for a second you open up to a cosmic reality or an eternal truth. The façade of life shatters, and through the cracks you can almost see, almost sense, almost know . . .

And this is where today’s enlightment comes in. Out in the desert, which historically is a place for mystical thoughts, I realized that my tears are caused by growing pains. My mind/spirit/psyche is trying to stretch so it can understand why he is not here, why I can’t see him or hear him, why he is so very gone. Maybe my grief will burn itself out before my mind stretches enough to encompass such an enormous thought, but maybe, just maybe, I’ll get to where I need to be.