Lots of people compliment me on how “put together” I seem every day. My mother died February of 2016. At that time I was finishing school and my brother was just 2 months shy of getting married. We had to push on, it’s what mom would’ve wanted.
Fast forward to almost 3 years later and people say I appear to handle my grief well. What they don’t know is that when I seem “fine” that those are the days I’m running from my grief. I put every heartbreaking thought on the back burner in order to get through each day. It’s not something I’m proud of but it’s my defense mechanism and my way to seem “normal”.
I tend to run from my grief, but when I start to get tired and slow down it hits me like a ton of bricks. Sometimes I can tell when it’s coming, each day I’ll become more and more agitated and then all of a sudden BAM! here it is, to engulf me for a few days. Other times it hits me out of nowhere.
It’s kind of like when you’re at the beach and you’re enjoying the waves; you look back at your friends on the shore, the ones too afraid to join you in the water. As you’re enjoying the view and thinking the day is going perfect, without warning a huge wave hits you from behind, throwing you beneath the water. When you’re blind sighted like this it usually takes a couple of minutes to regain control of your body to pull yourself above the shoreline again. Even after that you struggle to catch your breath until you decide to head back to the sand where it’s safe. Even trying to get back to the shore is tough, fighting the current and trying to get out before another wave comes. For the rest of the day you sit and stare back at the ocean from your beach chair where you’re safe, reliving the moment that knocked you down, hesitating to jump back in in fear of being hit again.
That’s what grief is like.
I find myself on this beach way too often, my emotions knocking me down without warning. Sometimes it takes me days to jump back into my ocean, a place where I can look around and enjoy where my life has taken me despite everything. But every time I do and I let that fear of the wave go, I always know it’s not too far away.