Anniversary Grief & Walking Through It
Did you know that “anniversary grief” is a real
and common occurrence in the lives of
those touched by the loss of a close loved one?
It’s true. When I worked in healthcare, there was even a section for it in psychosocial assessments. I learned first by watching for the signs in patients. Later, I learned by my own experience.
I’ve been away from my blog this past week, as it was the fourth anniversary of my mother’s death. This time of year has changed for me since her passing, and I am coming to terms with it by simply walking through. Her birthday would have been April 5th. So close to the anniversary of her passing.
This year is the first time that I walked through April 18th. I was fully functional, didn’t shut myself off from the world around me. Oh it’s never been something that I set out to do, avoidance. After all, I have an active role in my family life and in my work. It wasn’t a choice. It was a physical, deep-seated sense of the end for me, like a switch had been flipped and I was left staring ahead of me in some sort of tortured daze. It’s a strange thing, such a departure from my normal day-to-day functioning, in which I am always available to others and truly satisfied to take part in the world around me. What it has shown me is yet another reality – a deeper glimpse into the human condition. And I am no more above it than anyone else.
Since last year when I went into my cocoon, about mid-March (I continued to function, but it was like sleep-walking, wading through life in some sense of dread), I have been searching within. There has to be some residual part of my mother within me that has an answer. Some epiphany. Some bit of wisdom that would pull me upward, high above this. Maybe I could have a creative dream that would be so freaking profound that I would feel a new sense of purpose. There wasn’t.
And then there was something.
It was just a flash, something from the part of me that knew her deeply, something that only took a second to feel, to envision, to grasp. She was just behind me and in a whisper, she shooed me forward. FORWARD. Not up. Not around. In that moment I remembered something about her. Something she had said to me once. “When my time comes to leave this world, Dear Daughter, you will move on. You will be ready. You will go on with your life because that is what I expect of you. When my life is over, doesn’t mean your life is over.”
So I remembered this expectation when I envisioned her whispering to me to go on. Only it didn’t lift me above the grief. It simply energized me to walk right on through it. You know, I have a wonderful family. I need them and they need me. We enjoy one another. We lend strength and support to one another. But this walking through grief bit, well no one can really help you with that. You’ve really got to just freaking do it. Because at some point you will heal enough to see through the pain to yourself. And what you do at that point has an impact on you. And it tells you something about your relationship with the person you lost to death, and the person who you used to be, before you were forever changed by that loss – for then, you were but a seed. Now you must progress from that seed into who you are now. Isn’t that really what is at the very heart of creativity?
Some hurdles are meant to be crossed over. Thanks Mom, for speaking to me about death before I needed it so your words would be with me when I needed them most.