What is this?

What is this? I don't really know, other then a continuation of my updates and writings that I was sharing previously on Caringbridge of this journey through cancer and now widowhood and single parenting.

Maybe it won't end up being anything at all, or maybe it will be a glimpse into my heart, my life, my current situation, my testimony.

Whatever it becomes, I am touched that you are interested.

Monday, January 25, 2016

A new part of grief?

Every now and then I have one of those mornings when Aria spends the night at my brother in law's and I wake to silence and my own thoughts, not to toddler cries and mommy duty. These mornings leave room for some much needed reflection.

As I enjoyed a rare long hot shower I was taken back to this time a year ago and some advise I was given to find a daily time to allow myself to break down and let it out, then put my big girl pants on and do what I gotta do. Be a widowed mother and take care of my infant. Last January my shower was my safe place, where my tears merged with the water and slipped down the drain to out of sight and out of mind.  The only way I was able to survive.

A year later I find that I want to feel the tears. They are almost a tribute to my love for Brandon. Time may heal the wound, but like the scar left behind, it will never erase the love. 

I find that I no longer need to have my daily cry or release of the grief in order to function. I no longer cringe on the 23rd of every month. This realization beings conflicting feelings. Relief in realizing the weight has been somewhat lifted. Fear that the memories of my life with Brandon is slipping further and further away. Guilt that I am returning to the land of the living and continuing on with my individual life. It's incredibly confusing.

For me, I have found that there is a lot of truth in a statement I have heard often in my support groups: Grief never goes away, we just learn to incorporate it into our lives. 

I think I have worked very hard on my grief.  After that first 3 months of paralyzingly shock I jumped head first into support groups. A small Widowed group led by a therapist, a 13 week course called GriefShare, and a continuous drop in Widowed group at a non profit for grief support called the HeartLight Center. I surrounded myself with those in the same battle. I accepted the love and support of my amazing "village" of friends and family. I returned to my therapist for weekly sessions. I journaled, read books, blogs, pamphlets, went to seminars - you name it, I likely did it. 

I came to a place where, at the moment, I am comfortable around my grief. I'm not scared when it shows it's face, I don't run away from it anymore, in fact, I tend to lean into it. I want to understand it and embrace it in my life. That's where I am at the moment. However tomorrow may be a different story completely. 

I have found this journey is like riding a roller coaster blindfolded. You have no idea where it's going and it takes a few moments to get your bearings with each turn, climb and drop and every now and then your world turns upside down again.  The long ride up to the top of the big drop gives time for the anxiety to build up. Just like the the days before a "trigger date" of an anniversary, birthday or "Angelversary". Often the anticipation is worse then the actuality of these days, just like the slow journey up the seemingly never ending incline.  Then the day comes and feelings rush, some of which is the relief in the passing of the dreaded day. 

What I've found more difficult then surviving the trigger dates is the small day-to-day little dips and turns you don't expect. 

The smell of a hair product that momentarily zaps me back to our first apartment together 9 years ago. An ad on TV that brings a flashback of binge watching Breaking Bad together while bed bound from lupus and pregnancy.  Driving past a restaurant that had the best chicken fingers that Brandon loved. 

Right now I seem to be in a place where I recognize the rush of feelings for what they are.  The shock of the unexpected memory, the rush of the good feeling associated with it, then immediately the sadness of the loss of the future we'd planned, the pain of once again realizing the reality that Brandon is gone...like not coming back...ever, the self pity for the road Aria and I now walk, the fear of what is next. 

Except at the moment I am usually able to control the direction I go from there. Instead of spiraling out of control I am coming to a place of feeling gratitude for the memory flashback, sinking into it to pull out all the lovely details and trying to burn them into my mind. We are so afraid that we will forget and that moving forward is leaving them behind. So I take these moments and allow them to be the way I carry him with me. 

Yes, they still bring tears, but I embrace that almost as a tangible way of showing my continued love for someone I lost. 

I think I am coming to a different part of my journey in grief now.  The part where I start to use what I've experienced to come alongside others in it.  The part that isn't just accepting help, but also giving it.  Recently I have humbly accepted an invitation to be a part of the HeartLight Board of Directors, and am actually kicking off the first of a Young Widowed peer support group tonight.  Please pray that God gives me the words (or for those of you who know me, the lack of words- lol) needed tonight, and that He guides this group to be what we all need it to be.

The funny part is the way God works is just so beautiful.  Usually the one I am trying to help is unknowingly also helping me.  It's a remarkable experience and I think an essential part of my healing process.

This was a long entry, and I know I haven't updated in a while, so thanks for sticking with this to the end! I have so much more I want to share about this journey because I truly believe shared grief is diminished grief.  However I feel if I struggle to express what is on my mind or my heart likely it's not God given words to share here. But this seemingly just flowed from my fingertips, so I'm going to put it out there for whatever reason He intends it for. 

And again, thank you for continuing to walk with me and pray for me no matter where I am on this roller coaster. 

...oh and here's a few pictures of Aria and I lately...


She isn't always smiling! lol