One of the great things about grief, and also at the same time, one of the very worst things... Is that you will survive it. But, you will JUST be surviving for a while. And one day, you look up and realize that you've spent so much time surviving that you didn't really spend any time living. I've had that one day.. MANY days. But I don't really know how to change it.
We can try to tell ourselves to appreciate life, and don't get me wrong, I do appreciate so many aspects of it. But when your world closes in around you after the loss of a loved one.. You just go into survival mode. After Sam's death, I remember just promising myself that I could get through that day. I couldn't see past the next day and I didn't want to. There were many days that I honestly prayed that the next day wouldn't come. I didn't want to survive it because I didn't want to live with the reality. The day following Sam's death describes the process of grief very well -- In the darkest of my days... The sun still rose. Life moves on around us although our lives have completely stopped. After the funeral was over, life continued for everyone whose world wasn't shattered by our loss. But for those of us left behind, the journey was just beginning. And it was a very long and dark one. It still can be.
I don't like to think that we get over our losses. I don't think that we should. I carry that loss with me every single day of my life. Love does not end when life does. Relationships do not end when people die - we just carry them with us.
After Sam's death, I got by because of Grandma. I moved in with my Grandparents again and I tried to recover my life to the best of my ability. I stopped living and I started surviving.
In April of 2014, my Aunt, Grandma and I met with Palliative care. Grandma was dying. After almost 30 years of chemo and radiation, she had Congestive Heart Failure and her kidneys weren't functioning. It was one of the worst moments of my life. I wanted nothing more than to be strong for my grandma like she had always been for me... And I tried.. But I wondered in that moment if I would ever be able to go on without her. Time was not on our side. The estimate of "maybe 6 months" turned into about a month. I thought I could prepare myself for her death but I couldn't. I was just surviving.
When my phone rang May 14, on the way to work, and my Aunt was on the other line, I knew that my Grandmas pain had ended and mine was just beginning. For the first and only time in my life -- I had prayed with all of my heart for the thing in the world that was the absolute worst thing I could imagine.. I prayed that my Grandmas pain would end. I knew that it couldn't end on this earth. I prayed for her to let go. I cannot tell you what it feels like to pray for that.. I can only say that it was out of love. The best gift that I could give my grandma was just to let go.
But it wasn't really that simple. I think I thought it would be. I thought that my acceptance of her death would make it easier to live without her, but I couldn't have been more wrong. I have just been surviving. It is a vicious cycle. Sometimes I feel so depressed that I'm not really "living" my life anymore.. But feeling that way just makes me feel more depressed, which just makes it all worse. I don't know why I'm writing this except to express something that I was never really told about grief -- it becomes so much about just surviving that we forget what it's like to really live.
I don't think the realization of this will make it any better for me, but I do think it will help me to appreciate those moments more where I'm not just surviving... But I'm appreciating what I survived for -- the life my grandma wanted me to have.