Text at 7:00 am
Mom: Please call me.
As you pick up the phone and make the call a haze settles in anticipating the worst, but ultimately knowing if the worst hits, there was no amount of preparation for it.
Its a call I’ve made upon similar request before and I remember how each has ended. When the haze clears the memory remains of exactly where you were, what you were doing and how you felt. For me, it is a gut punch. The air is sucked from my lungs and simultaneously I feel as though my body is weighted with sand.
In an instant the view changes.
Our family is fortunate. We have had few losses in my lifetime, but those we have lost have been critical pieces of the family fabric. Each time is always as hard as the last. It doesn’t matter if it was sudden, long foreseen or just ‘their time.’ Most recently, I lost my aunt. In the days spent after with family I kept expecting her. There’s no where she would have rather been than there with us. In my mind, she was running late or just out of the room. Her laugh just out of earshot. Having to remind myself that she wouldn’t and couldn’t possibly be on her way was difficult.
Although it begins this way, grief is not a point in time. Everything changes from your position, but the world continues to turn. There aren’t guidelines for how people should feel or react and there is certainly no amount of time to countdown until it ends.
Grieving is a process that looks different on everyone. For me, it is invisible pack full of rocks and sand. Always on, a constant weight. At the start it is so heavy your body aches, breaks down, gives in to the pressure. With every ‘first’ it feels like more weight is added. Over time, you learn to bear the weight, adjust, carry yourself differently. Further down the road a small tear allows some of the sand to drain, lightning your step. Though the the sand drains over time, the bag remains with you, always.
As you move through its stages and although everyone ‘does it’ differently, one thing we all need is support. There is no formula or checklist. Be present, share your stories and do your best to honor those that are gone the way they would have wanted.