Grieving is a strange animal and apparently it is different for all of us. I am told by folks daily it is not linear and this seems to be true. Taking one step forward often leads to 2 steps backward. Some days it's all smiles while the next can be filled with tears. The chart looks more like an echogram than anything else. Plenty of spikes followed by dips and overtime the ranges become less extreme.
Living in a society that likes to label and compartmentalize everything, I have read there are even typical designated stages etc.. and to that, I answer with only this: "WHATEVER!"..True it seems these stages are universal and necessary to proceed with the process and I do not discount them however the process is certainly individual. No rules can really apply.
I am no expert in the field, but in the past 3 years I have experienced the deaths of first, my father, then my mother and now, 2 months ago, my new husband and all three have been different experiences. Of course none were easy, all final, but most importantly a symbol of change to another level. Whether I was ready or not. You have no choice on that one. The only choice you have is to let yourself feel, not suppress it so you CAN MOVE on.
I was lucky, both of my parents lived into their 80's. It was only a matter of time when the body, mind and spirit were done. Nonetheless the process is heartbreaking. Seeing, your parents digress, having to make life decisions for them and mostly without their consent is wrenching. Knowing that they can no longer take care of themselves and reversing roles as parents to children is eye opening. There is no choice, you look at the person who brought you into this world, nurtured you, gave you the best that they were ABLE to provide emotionally, physically and monetarily and realize it is now YOUR TURN. If you were one of the lucky ones, they provided you that safety, unconditional parental love that you knew was there if you needed it. So returning that is a "no brainer". You just suck it up and do the right thing..
Nonetheless when the elderly parent dies, it is still tough. Losing your creators finalizes their role. You no longer have that unconditional love. You must relinquish it and move ahead. This takes time, this takes mourning, this takes processing all your experiences good and bad, crying, laughing, sharing and realizing you are the way you are mostly because of them! and if you are really on it, you realize the only way you can still be with them is to honor them by carrying on whatever good they have instilled in you. Move ahead taking a bit of them with you.....
Then there is another kind of mourning..What happens when you unexpectedly lose the love of your life? The consequence of being in the wrong place at the wrong time? He didn't deserve that! We were just beginning! 2 years and less than a year married.... Hence, it is not exactly the same process of an "expected" death.
First you go on overdrive. You can't even grieve because you have to deal with all the decisions. Traditions, funerals, paperwork, police reports, insurance companies, banks etc....In my case throw in Ex family members as well as other people who materialized from the "woodwork". Their needs out-shadow everything. Suddenly you find yourself placating everyone, try to appease them, as well as being strong to take care of all the necessary business... It's Go go go..
Then the reality sets in. Yes everyone else is mourning too but they have families to go back too, loved ones all around... YOU deal with the loss of the love of your life ALONE. Your partner that you vowed "til death do we part" but you don't expect it to happen so soon, Is DEAD.
He doesn't come home anymore, your bed is empty, his clothes stay put, his things don't move, you no longer discuss the things you have to do that week or that month, The good and the bad. You no longer make plans for the future together, no longer share decision making, you no longer have the shoulder to cry on, he no longer shares HIS world with you, you lost your best friend, the one who you made you laugh and smile and the one who gave it back...it's Gone and it's not coming back.. So You keep busy, you look ahead, you do what you can to keep your self occupied. You remember what made you happy before he was in your life, you still have that! You focus on that, you focus on change, you focus on doing the right thing.
He may not be here, but he is with me, in my heart, in my brain. when I uncontrollably burst into tears which can happen at anytime throughout the day, is he near? I have no religious dogma so I have no real beliefs of what happens to the dead. Hollywood likes us to think the deceased is watching us and I like that idea. But really, when the big light turns off, no one knows.. However, we do know we are primarily carbon and that we are just a mass of atoms circulating. It only seems logical that all this atomic energy is bouncing around the universe. Is it possible that when I die our atoms will once again dance together? Are his atoms blasting by me any time I have one of these intense seemingly random moments of loss. Is he on my shoulder whispering to me? I'll never know but I do know he does not want me to suffer. He does not want me to live the rest of my life in pain. That I know. So it is that that I remember everyday when I wake up alone in the house that he built, bike the roads he trained and raced on, mow the lawn he planted from seed ,and when I'm allowed, play and give his children my love and hopefully pass on his legacy to them. I remind myself daily of what he would say to me when I felt sad and shed a tear. "Don't cry Nance". " but I have to" I'd say and so it goes. I will shed the tears until they no longer fall and I will continue to smile as I think of him and the love and stability he gave to me even for such a short time. I was a lucky woman... no no no, I AM a lucky woman.