re-picturing TEARS

I was chatting with a friend about my grandmother recently and was startled when I said that she had passed away on March 4th. Wait a minute. Is that right? Could it have been almost a month since her death? How is that possible? I thought I would feel better by now.

Much of the time I do feel better, almost normal (or the new normal anyway), but often I feel pretty crummy. I may be fine for a few hours or even a day, but then the grief washes over me again and the loss cuts my heart just as strongly as it did on grandma’s death day.

As I work grow through this loss, I’ve learned that my grief is grounded in my body. When I’m perfectly honest with myself (instead of saying that death is a normal part of life and that I should get over it and just move on already!), I am not doing well. Or perhaps I am doing well, considering the circumstances. But I don’t feel good, at a deep, visceral level. I feel distracted during my days and nightmares of death and loss haunt my often sleepless nights. But I keep trudging on in my daily life. I have a conference to plan. I have a paper to resubmit. I have a dog to walk. And when I can’t express my grief, when I need to stuff it into my stomach and conjure up presentable smile, it manifests through my body. I feel out of sorts – tired, achy, dizzy, nauseous.

The upside of this grounded grief is that by expressing it through my body – I do feel better. When I am alone or in the company of friends, I find myself sometimes tearing up (sometimes sobbing) and although it sucks in the moment, it somehow feels better afterwards. Just as rain washes the grime of winter away to reveal the new life of spring, I can’t help but feel that this grief – including the blurry, muddied perspective that comes from my tears – is beautiful; it is an opportunity to grow in clarity, to reflect on what is important, and to appreciate the moment more (even when it seems unbearable).

What has your body taught you about grief?

  1. What a beautifully written and heartfelt post. I lost my aunt 3 months ago. I didn’t think it would affect me very strongly, but I was wrong. Although most of the time I’m ok, sometimes I have been more emotional than normal (sobbing over things that wouldn’t normally bring a tear) and quite unmotivated to do things that used to be at the top of my priority list. The loss of a loved one is never easy and no matter how big of a deal others think it is(n’t) or how fast other people think we should be getting over it, it is a very personal matter, experienced differently by everyone. Thank you for the lovely post. My thoughts are with you.

  2. Oh dear friend, sending you so much love during this time. I guess the biggest lesson I’ve learned from grief is that it is a process and it is far from linear. And that it will catch you off guard. Here’s to being gentle with yourself. xoxo

  3. I’m so sorry for your loss. MY good friend just lost her grandma in February and I know that the grief last longer than we think it will.
    I just wrote about this on my blog on Wednesday. I was terribly sick with C. diff for 2 months and I think it was my gut telling me to listen to what it was saying. Getting C. diff was as if it was finally shouting at me to pay attention to it.
    At least that’s what I think my body was trying to teach me.

  4. It’s wonderful to come by and reconnect with your words and your photos – your voice. I have taken to calling 2012 the year of perpetual suck – this is far from my normal ability to be grateful and positive, but there it is. It’s been a tough year so far, filled with worry and grief. Your photos capture the way so much of it has appeared to me – through the blurry lens of tears. My body knows that this grief must be expressed. I’ve been sick for several months, and the congestion of snot and tears makes things worse physically, and yet, so much better emotionally. These feelings will have their day, will have their way with me. My body tells me that it is my job to make room, to make way. This is not for me to control. Thank you for sharing, and inviting. Whenever I come back here, I am so very glad.

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