I fell off the wagon … of life, I didn’t return to drinking alcohol after a period of abstinence.
In other words, I took a few weeks off from the madness of rushing around constantly, racing from one activity to another, without a moment to stop. And I justified to myself that I was allowed to do this because I was grieving my dad who passed away on Boxing Day after a long illness. In fact, it seems the only other time we are justifiably allowed to do the same is on holiday. So, I was on a grief holiday.
And yet, even within this understandably acceptable period when there really wasn’t much else I could think about, I was asked whether I would use my grieving experience to add further value/insight to my course. And that is a valid question! Considering the subject of my course is grief, that would make perfect sense.
But, no, I didn’t want to – I didn’t want to have to force myself to be in writing mode just because my current insight was real, tangible and might help others.
I just wanted to bloody grieve like a normal person and be left to my own devices for a while. And so I did.
I wrote a couple of Facebook posts about how I felt about seeing my dad dying and then finally pass away … but I only wrote that because I felt inspired to write, not out of obligation that I should, because it was my duty as someone who is ‘knowledgeable’ on the subject.
And so the question posed to me by a well-meaning friend really got me thinking….
The analogy that came to me was a hamster in a spinning wheel – we are the hamsters and the wheel is our life. We spin and spin in the everydayness of life until the wheel forces us to stop for a while, because of death, or any other major life transition. We cannot possibly keep spinning in the wheel while we are processing this loss. So we are forced to stop, gather ourselves, recoup …. But it also made me think about how quickly we either want or need to get back on the wheel.
As soon as my dad passed away, I questioned my life, my work, did I even want to write about the subject of grief anymore? Not really, I wanted out. For a short while, nothing felt important except the wellbeing of my family and friends and I thought the rest of my life should be treated with ease … I told myself don’t stress about anything much, it’s not worth it, … I should only fill my life only with things that weren’t too taxing, didn’t require much effort, because we’re all not around for very long anyway, so what’s the point?
I didn’t plan to feel this way, I just did. And I wasn’t going to fight it. I thought that’s how I would stay forever, almost wanting to gloat at my friend and say “I’ll stay here as long as I like, thanks!” Why does everyone assume that after a deep loss you want to get back on the wagon of life so quickly, or get back on that wheel? What’s so great about it?
And I gave myself a time period of grief, I actually said I would “resume normal activities” after March. For some reason, after my dad dying on Boxing Day, the spring time felt like the right time to be back.
And did I? Absolutely, not! … nobody forced me, pressurised me to do anything but I found myself itching to get back to my course only a month or so after …. I chose the right time for me.
I think that’s so important. I have written so much about expectations in grief and how long people think is acceptable to grieve before you return to a semblance of normality again.
For those in the know, they will tell you that grief never ends. It stays with you forever – for me now, each loss just scars my heart a little more but something much stronger than grief urges me to keep going. It’s an unexplainable force that drives most of us on despite our pain, so we learn to find a way forward amongst the hurt because of our innate humanness to survive.
So, was it that easy to get back on the wagon? In all honesty, I didn’t really think about it … it just happened. I listened to myself and what I felt compelled to do, without judging it, or clock-watching and realised that I just wanted to get back to living my life again.
Am I the same as I was before? Of course not! Every loss makes me more reflective of my life, but things don’t stress me the way they used to, by experiencing so much grief, I have a different view now, a much broader perspective of life than just the journey I thought I was on.
So, what’s the point of this blog? …. Don’t let yourself be pressurised by anyone else’s time schedule for you … listen to your heart and your instinct, there is no guilt involved here – you’ve lost someone you’ve loved deeply, do what feels right and choose your own timings of when you want to pick up the pieces of your life.
If you use your own intuition and insight, you will know … and when you do step back in to your life again, accept that you will be different. It’s impossible to be the same person – the brutal experience of witnessing the death of a loved one cannot be shut away in a cupboard, and only be taken out on special occasions.
I think of my family constantly, in fact, sometimes I wonder just many times a day I must think about my mother, father & sister, I’d guess hundreds, if not thousands. They remain at the forefront of my mind constantly. Yet, at the same time, I want to keep going forward – in fact, for me it’s become a mission to get my course out into the world now because I want to honour them.
And no, I don’t intend for my life to be like the crazy hamster spinning in it’s wheel, but I know it needs direction and movement as the only way I feel I can go is forward.
How about you?
I’d love to hear what analogy you would pick to describe a loss that you’ve experienced? Please feel free to write and comment.