Baby steps. The concept resonates. Do one small thing. Then another.
Brush your hair. Put bread and cheese on the table. Water the plants. Rest often. Talk. Cry. Find a comfortable space to be. Fold the washing. Put the socks in drawers and fresh sheets on the bed. Take care of yourself. Ask for comfort. Comfort those who need you.
Bereavement and grief touch all our lives. No one is exempt. We lose people, pets, places. Some lose their health, jobs and security. As we age we lose friends, our strength and our place in the world.
Because loss and grief are universal, strangers as well as those who love us understand our pain, although not its unique flavour. That’s why we can ask for any help we need.
Accept their time and gifts. Be grateful. Nothing else is needed. If people feel awkward around your sadness, let them go, at least for now.
Old people understand grief well. We’ve had our share of losses and pain and they’ve become familiar territory. We know the terrain is rugged. Slowly, we remember how we’ve been here before and survived. We hope we’ll get through it…one more time.
The pain wears us down. Energy dissipates and we think we may not recover. We sleep poorly, dream too much, eat too much or not enough. Age catches up with us, takes our breath and sucks our life. Getting up each day takes effort. Pain threatens to engulf our being.
Wisdom reminds us, ‘This too shall pass‘.
Grief as a journey made up of baby steps
The grief-journey paces itself and can’t be hurried. Yet each time, we grow impatient to get our lives ‘back to normal’. The concept is absurd. With each loss, the old normal disappears. We can only hope that some new, stable state will one day replace that old awareness.
For a time, we feel stuck between unfamiliar rocks and want to move on. Gently does it! We remind ourselves to take those baby steps. Place one foot after the other. This is not a race but a long, tiresome journey. One painful minute, one painful day after the next.
Until, one day…
It’s three months since my daughter, Anne, died tragically, alone. My first waking thought is no longer about loss and pain. Nightmares and dreams of what-might-have-been have (mostly) receded. The question, ‘Why did it happen?’ has become less incessant.
Painful memories and bitter tears sometimes surprise, but don’t overwhelm me as they did before. Missing her is almost bearable, although I still long for her friendship and love. Reminders of her presence are everywhere.
Easter, her birthday, Christmas are hurdles to be faced. I dread them.
But I’m surprised the sky’s turned blue and a bird sings. I look forward to future events, write blog posts, enjoy the company of family and friends. Life became ‘more normal’ when I stopped looking for answers and miracles.
As a dear friend says,
‘Eventually, we just get on with things.’
Help after bereavement
If you need help after the loss of a loved one, talk to a friend, a pastor or your general practitioner. As well, there are many helpful counselling services available.
In Australia, call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 46 36 for immediate assistance.