Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Riding the Waves of Grief Following the Loss of a Loved One

I wasn’t prepared for the first wave of grief powerful enough to knock me off my feet. The smaller ones I anticipated and handled well. Then the ten-foot white cap hit me, pulling me under, leaving me disoriented, with a salty taste in my mouth.
I’ve known what was coming for a while. I knew the waves of grief would come sooner or later. I actually began grieving about losing my dad November 2007 when his hospice nurses told us they’d be surprised if he made it to that New Year’s.
I couldn’t help but have the idea of him dying in my face when I was there with him for all of the initial meetings with his hospice team. Some days I felt the impending loss more than others. In the months to come, when he’d outlived everyone’s predictions, I was very aware of his serious condition but didn’t spend as much time thinking about his death, unless he had an emergency or wanted to talk with me about life after death.
I mourned ahead of time when I found out Nana, my dad’s mom, wasn’t going to make it. One night after coming home from visiting her in the ICU (my mom had to sneak me in since I was only eleven at the time), I was sure this hospital stay would be her final one. I cried really hard that night, knowing one of my favorite people in the world wasn’t going to be on earth much longer.
It was over a week, maybe two, later when my dad and uncles all walked in to Benedictine’s gym where I was cheerleading for a St. Mary’s basketball game. I knew my nana must have died, but I didn’t cry then. The tears had passed for a bit, but they returned from time to time in the months after that.
Since the wave hit yesterday, I’ve done my best to ride it out. I’ve experienced a deep sense of loss numerous times, and for whatever reason, I generally take things in stride, perhaps functioning in crisis mode for a bit, then the pain and sadness overtake me in the aftermath for a time. I get back on my feet, but I can sense from then on that a portion of my life and a part of me is gone with the person who’s absent.
Today I asked some of my friends who have lost loved ones what has helped them get through the grieving process. I got a myriad of answers, many I’ve already been using. Let the emotions come; don’t try and hold them in. Pray, write, talk with family or friends. Call if you need to. I did all of those things throughout the course of the day.
I also cranked some tunes and danced. I know my dad liked to work emotions out through physical activity when possible. In the car, I listened to a Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir CD and only played the songs with upbeat tempos.
I thanked God for the hug I received from one of the kids at school, knowing only He knows what that meant to me on a day like today was. I had ice cream with sprinkles on it before dinner.
I thought about how sharing some of the lessons I’ve learned from my dad might help some of my family members and friends in the future. I was completely honest with the spiritual divas in my prayer group about how I’ve been feeling and listened carefully to their words of wisdom, knowing I’m also benefiting from their prayers. I told my husband how grateful I am for him more than once.
I know more waves will come. Sometimes they’ll rise up unexpected and knock me down. Other days I’ll wade through them more gracefully, and eventually I’ll be able to walk on the beach, aware of the waves’ presence, but most of the time out of their reach.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...