The Truth About Grief: It's Not You, It's Them.
I've been brewing a written series about grief for quite some time now... have just been waiting for the entire idea to firm itself up and take some sort of shape. This is such a loaded topic! I will try my best to keep these posts somewhat organized, but - let's face it - it's about grief. It's bound to get a little messy!
The premise of this series is that the reality of grief and the collective grieving process looks entirely different than it's most often portrayed. Why? There aren't many people who know how to truly sit with it and experience it. There also aren't many people who actually want to talk about their own processes and stories.There's textbook grief, and there's actual grief. It's ugly and gritty, cathartic and alchemical. Had I the choice, I would never trade in my relationship with grief. It is the most beautiful, transformative process I've ever navigated. There were gut-wrenching moments to belly-laugh moments, crying like an emo kid to wanting to Care Bear-stare my love over all the lands, and so many other moments in between. And just like any other relationship in my life, I have come to know myself so intimately because of it. No matter how you spin it, that is always a gift.
So what do I know about all of this? My mom transitioned out of this life when I was eleven years old. Transitioned. That might sound like a funny word to use, but the deeper we dive into this, the more sense it will make.
That's us. We were a cute pair, no? I was a total mama's girl. She was my best friend, I'm pretty sure I was hers.
I was an only child, she was a single parent - we operated as a single unit, and made it look easy. For those of you who understand only children - you know I was an absolute terror most of the time. I was also an expert hider... especially in department stores (the 80's children will understand the importance of the circular clothing racks.)
There are a lot of gory heart-wrenching (and equally amazing) details that fill a decent size of this story but I'm going to save those for another post. Short version: I served as witness to my mother being consumed by cancer. I ran the gamut of all spectrums: rage, depression, fear, exhaustion, sugar highs, love buzzes, self-medication, non-existence, an obsession with video games, reclaiming my existence, a game of Chicken with Catholicism, and so on. It was all necessary.
If my relationship with grief was a living being, it would almost be of legal drinking age. That's a pretty decent chunk of time! Think of all the things that shifted within you from birth to twenty-one years of age. Feels like many different lifetimes all rolled into one, doesn't it? Like a trail of alternate realities that are somehow simultaneously played out on the same screen. It may not always be easy to follow but has a strange way of somehow making sense.
Ma and I are still quite the pair - we just look a little different these days (misty orb on left: Ma, fake redhead: me, strange dude: one of my besties.) Despite the different realms, she's always near. Our connection was not severed by this seeming separation. What I have come to know most is that our journey down this rabbit hole is ours alone.
We are meant to experience it exactly as we feel called to. Pay no mind to interference from those around you. They just don't know what they don't know.
It's not you - it's them. Grief is a strong mirror for many people. How others react to your process is a reflection of themselves - not you. You are not obligated to assume the weight of their discomfort simply because they do not understand your healing process. Do your thing and take care of yourself in ways that feel healthy and in right relationship with yourself. Remain mindful and aware, and seek out the people who are able to support by meeting you where you're at in your current state.
We live in a world of contrast where grief adds texture. Without a little salt, the sweet wouldn't be as sweet.