Sometimes grief hits you when it's not convenient.
Tomorrow is my mom's yahrzeit (the anniversary of someone's death in the Jewish tradition) and it would be so much easier if I could just light the yahrzeit candle, say the prayers and decide I'll be sad from 7-9pm. That was my plan anyway.
But it's happening RIGHT NOW.
I've been feeling anxious and angry a lot today. I thought it was because I'm on a deadline, have a lot of behind the scenes scheduling, emails, writing, organizing, planning to do. I thought it was just me being overwhelmed with life.
I realize now that my body is remembering the loss. I feel it now in my heart just as I did before, during and after her death. That first round of heartache lasted for 6 months after she died. The physical heartache that originates in the center of my chest and radiates out. It's dark, heavy and unmovable. When I feel it I see the shape of a large spider, legs coming out in every direction.
Grief is ugly, complicated, messy, raw, painful and difficult to hold alone.
While I will welcome the love and support that I know I will receive from this post, that is NOT why I'm sharing this with you.
I'm sharing this with you because I don't want to hold it alone. I'm sharing this with you because grief is not something that we typically talk about or share with one another. It is a very private experience. We want the emotions of grief to just come when someone dies and get it over with and hope that it won't return. But it DOES return over and over again. I've talked to so many people who have lost a parent, especially my mom's friends. Every single one of them has shared with me that 15, 20, 30+ years after their loved one has passed, they still feel the loss. It never fully goes away.
And yet, we're not talking about it.
We're sweeping it to the side, burying our pain like their bodies in the ground. We bury it so that we don’t make each other uncomfortable or sad. So that we’re not pitied. So that we don’t have to face how fucking painful it is. Unfortunately, what I know as a somatic therapist is that the emotion that is not experienced to completion doesn't decompose like a buried body but rather becomes stuck in our tissue eventually becoming some autoimmune disease, chronic pain or illness that we can't come back from.
We NEED to talk about it.
At some point, we are ALL going to experience loss of someone we love.
Grief comes in many ways. It comes in the form of physical pain, anger, confusion, utter dismay, fear of more loss and fear of our own death. It also comes in the form of hope, motivation, being present more often and being more focused on what we really want. It forces us to feel our lives right now and to remember the sacredness of every moment. Especially when your heart is crying out from loneliness and sadness that no one can take away.
When you are feeling this, you need to talk about it. With a therapist, with the ones you love. Talk to your kids, friends, family members, teachers, pets, the tree in your backyard. Let's share this very real part of being alive. Not to dwell on it, but to remember the sacredness of life and the loss that comes with it.
We NEED to talk about it.
We need to talk about letting go of everything that we lost when their body stopped breathing.
Last night my sis and I made a list of all of the good things we remember about my mom. Our list includes lots of memories, her cute little dance moves, the way she ordered at restaurants, the way it felt when she put her hand on my face and called me my nickname, how cute and happy she got after a few sips of alcohol. (cut to pic to the left)
Because my mom was an expert in the kitchen and taught me so much about cooking, I regularly think of her and talk to her when I’m in the kitchen making food for the week or trying some new recipe.
We also need to talk about the ways that they are still alive. Perhaps it's seeing their smile in another person’s face or if its a parent perhaps you hear their laugh when you laugh.
We NEED to talk about it and we need to FEEL it.
I had other plans for tonight. But then grief came to visit. So, I will sit with this feeling. I will place my hands on my heart and tell this part of me that I am here, that I love her and that we will get through this together. I will talk to my mom and tell her that I'm listening just in case she has something to share with me. I will hold myself with compassion and care as I sift through the long slow moments of sadness. I will feel that sadness in my body and let that energy move and transform into other sensations and emotions. I will consciously remember all that my mom gave me when she was alive. Most importantly she gave me LIFE. I will remember what it felt to be held by her or to have her grab my hand as we walked down the street together.
That's the thing I miss the most...