It's a weird journey from start to forever (since with grief there's never really a finish).
The first days are acute. Everything feels like it's happening in slow motion. It hurts more than you can fathom. But at least you're busy.
There are plans to be made and things to be done. There are arrangements.
People come out of the woodwork to support you, and offer their love and concern.
It hurts, but for a time, you can see that your loss means something to others. That they too, see the rend in the universe that has been made by the loss of this person you loved so much. It holds you up in those early days.
But then, everything that can be done, is done. People return to their regular lives, and suddenly you have to navigate this world that has not been made right for you.
I remember being shocked that I had to do things like pay the electrical bill. My daughter was dead. How could bills be important?
Then there's the first year, which I refer to as "the year of firsts". First holidays and milestones without them. The pain is still raw and fresh, and people understand as you touch each meaningful date and acknowledge your hurt.
But I think the real work comes with the second year and beyond. Because that's when you get down to the real work of creating a life without someone that was supposed to be there.
I had a whole life with Sarah that I haven't seen outside of dreams. And while I don't live in the urgency that is new grief, it's now a weight that I carry all the time.
It's a different kind of work, grieving. It's not even that it's always sad. It just...is.
Truly, though, I think most of you know, I'm a happy person by nature. I love people and I love life. I'm not swimming around in my grief after almost ten years. But I will never stop missing her, either. I will never get to stop carrying on with a life that was supposed to include her. So, it's just always going to be there, that weight of her loss.
So, I was having this moment of annoyance at a mom who was complaining about her child doing something normal and wonderful. It's been happening a lot lately, actually. People having the totally normal feeling that their kids are growing up too fast, and couldn't they just slow down a little bit?
It's a feeling I've had.
But right now, I'm watching Liam learn how to use a spoon. He's almost 3 1/2 and he can't use a spoon. He can't regulate how fast he eats. He can't tear food with his front teeth. These are all skills that most kids get at about 18 months.
Of course, he's also getting more words all the time, and walking up the stairs (instead of crawling), and gaining other great skills. There's a lot to be excited about.
And still, when I hear mom's complain, I can't help but think that they should be grateful that their kids are doing those things. Because mine isn't. Or won't. Or won't soon.
But then, I know that there's nothing wrong with how they're feeling. It's normal. And it's the same thing that people who've lost could think about me. How can I complain that Liam's not doing certain things yet?
I sometimes have to remind myself that we all have struggles, and sometimes the hardest struggles we face are to remember to see things from a perspective other than our own, and to choose gratitude for our circumstances.
I lost Sarah.
But I get to keep Liam.
One child can never replace another, but I have so much to be thankful for. I have to hold on to that gratitude with both hands and squeeze once in a while.
You should too.
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