Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Silver linings, no playbook

Everyone thinks they know so much about grief. And everyone does. And no one does. It is an intensely personal thing.  God bless those who haven't suffered a major loss in your life.  It's a difficult thing to avoid and it likely will happen to everyone at some point in their life.  If you are lucky enough to have avoided it thus far, count your blessings. Most people have lost someone we love, but one person's grief is unlike that of anyone else. Every experience is unique. There is no playbook, you just have to figure it out for yourself.

Society tends to recoil from those in grief, perhaps recognizing the need for each person to process things in their own way. It can be lonely at times, but there is grace in the solitude of it all. You can't find a silver lining without the dark clouds.  I've been focusing on the clouds, which is not really my style, but I assure you there are silver linings too.  The kindness of people like you is certainly one of those.

My last post brought all sorts of concern and sympathy from all of you. I didn't know how much I would surprise people with my ongoing sadness. It surprised me a bit too, because I did not realize how revealing it was. I've yammered on so much about all of this I thought everyone already knew. I am touched and thank you for your concern and kindness We are fine. I am fine. Please understand, one can be "fine" and sad at the same time.

I suspect folks assume we have moved on and are getting on with our lives. They would be half right. We are getting on with our lives, but haven't moved on. It's a long slog through grief and I don't see any end in sight.  Sure, it gets "easier" in some ways. The grief is just part of us now and we have learned to live with it, but it's there - always there.

One of the worst things, for me, is hearing about the "stages of grief" as though my specific and personal story can be categorized in some over arching paradigm that is apropos of nothing. I've written this before, but the stages of grief, if they have any merit at all, are 1) not linear; and 2) happen several times an hour or day.  Most importantly, if one goes through those stages in order like a good little lab rat, there is no resolution.  You don't magically feel better because you've accepted reality. Reality bites. And that makes you angry and depressed and sad all over gain. It is a cycle that never ends. Lather, rinse, repeat.  

But it's not all terrible. It really isn't. The secret is that while sometimes the grief is a difficult burden, it is often a great gift too. Though I miss Maggie's physical presence and hi-jinks more than one can imagine, I carry her with me always. I'm happy that she is with me at all, even if just in memory and spirit. Maggie is my constant companion, sitting on my shoulder. She listens to me and guides me.I see the world through her perhaps even more than I did when she was alive. I laugh at things she would have found entertaining and I'm sad that she is not here to enjoy them with me.

 I assure you, her company offers far more comfort than sadness. Once in a while I feel her joie de vivre come shining through. And that is the brightest part of the silver lining.


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