Grief: Life After
By Dawn on January 27, 2011
I have a habit of leaving my body.
Whenever I am feeling at odds with my life, I move into my head and leave my body vacant. A shell in which I inhabit, but barely live.
My head is a lovely comforting place. It is filled with lush chaise lounges and reading lamps. The carpets are plush, and there are ever percolating pots of coffee and tea that magically refills. The temptation to live permanently inside my head is ever present, and I can happily live in there for undetermined amounts of time. It is peaceful and safe and I don't have to feel anything. Of course, the added bonus is that a majority of people simply don't notice my vacancy.
Generally, an illness or injury is what forces me back into my body. Like any structure left unattended, my body starts to break down. My blood sugar rises. I gain weight. My pap smears come back wonky. I get shingles or start to consume bottles of liquid ibuprofen at a truly alarming rate...You know, the sirens to pull over and get my collective self together.
When I started the massage therapy almost four weeks ago, I went in knowing that my body was holding an enormous amount of feelings. Like always, I knew things were terribly out of balance. The headaches. The pain -- all located in the left side of my body -- head to toe. I couldn't verbalize entirely what was wrong with me, except that I knew it was something.
It wasn't depression. I know that feeling, for it has also driven me into my head. However, the place in my head in which I live while depressed is not a lovely place. There is nothing comforting about that place, as it is bereft of joy. There are no chaise lounges. There is no light. There is nothing there to nourish me. It is the rock where Prometheus has his liver pecked out, wind blasted and barren. Living there was not a choice, but a punishment.
As I lay on the table and had my massage therapist activate my meridian points, I have been forced to inhabit my body. Forced to figure out what I am holding in various parts of my body and then breathe through the pain as the points are worked until they release. Forced to stay in touch with what I am feeling, followed with why.
Following my massage last Thursday, I was crabby. Whatever had been worked through left me initially feeling a bit panicked and unsure. I didn't WANT to deal with any of this.
Finally, late Saturday night it came to me. This thing I was desperately avoiding.
Grief. Not sadness, not wistfulness. Grief.
I will allow my body to fall to pieces around me to avoid grief. To avoid feeling grief.
And why? Because it feels like failure. Failure on my part. My own blame points directly back at me for not being... whatever it should be to have avoided that grief. I lock it up in my cells and blood and muscles and try to out wait it, or out think it. I should have been smarter, I should have anticipated differently. I should have been less trusting. If I truly let go, then I have failed.
So, instead of feeling the grief, and then moving through that to life After, I refuse to acknowledge the tyrannosaurus rex of my grief as it snacks on my limbs.
In the moment of the massage on Thursday that this thought swept through me, I began to cry. The words "This is my Life After..." were what came to mind. My Life After, which means that I will survive. I will thrive, even.
Then I packed it up for another two days until the energy of my body forced me to release the thought and look at it. Not terrified. Not with tears, but simply to look at it.
It is scary to look at your grief, at least for me. Everything I fear is wrapped up in it, a churning mass of family and friends and lovers and expectations and disappointments over 40 long years.
I can no longer avoid it, so I must sit -- face to face -- and figure out a way to integrate Grief into my life. Not in a way that denies Grief, nor in a way that consumes Me.
My Life After.
Writer, Thinker, Nap-Taker and almost Doctor of Education can be found at
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