Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Oh hello Grief, there you are.

For those of us who identify as bereaved, you may relate to the idea that grief is not a time limited event, coming to an end after the completion of certain stages or phases.  Rather, grief is a continual journey of coping, adapting and learning to live with the death of our loved one.  While grief's intensity changes considerably from the time immediately following the death, to the days, months and years that follow, it remains unpredictable and riddled with inconsistent triggers.  The effects of grief may not inhibit the experienced bereaved from participating in the day to day, but a trigger can significantly affect those coping skills we use to maintain our "normal."
Like always, this is new blog is not coming out of nowhere.  Since the first day of this New Year I have been cognizant that 2012 signifies a decade since Flynn died.  Typically I feel a heightened awareness of his being with the approach of his actual anniversary, but this year there is a lingering ache at the realization that it has been ten years since my arms embraced him.  Consequently some days I have felt particularly fragmented, today being one of them.  Alan Wolfelt may refer to these experiences as a "grief burst" but whatever you would like to call it; I am feeling my grief wash over me like it was just yesterday.
You may be wondering how this grief is manifesting itself (I would be wondering)? Respectfully, it has been ten years since Flynn's death and so it is likely that I wear my grief differently than I did then.  In fact, outwardly the grief does present differently.  For example, I am capable of participating in my daily tasks and remaining composed is not a continuous chore.  In saying that, my internalized reactions to this grief burst are familiar. Among these emotional responses is a heightened awareness of my own mortality and that of my family (I like to call it "the illusion of control that we comfortably live with" until it is shattered of course) followed by the emergence of helpless anxiety.
Today's grief burst was triggered by a dream that I had last night.  While the dream was a fictional storyline created by my unconscious mind, the feelings that ensued as a result of the dream were very real. In my dream I was attempting to resuscitate a little girl whom I identified as my sister (of note: I do not have a sister) after finding her in a pool.  I woke up feeling as traumatized as I was ten years ago. I came out of the dream with my heart racing, the pit in my middle ached and all I could think was "oh no, not again."  While Flynn's death was the result of complications at birth, this dream conjured up similar feelings of responsibility for this young life and the knowledge of my own helplessness.  It is not surprising that I would suffer from a grief burst for the remainder of the day.
The unpredictable nature of grief bursts can be frustrating and inconvenient. To put it in context, today I have been distracted, finding meaning in every song on the radio and emotionally vulnerable (translation: close to tears).  But I did say that this grief was not presenting problems in my daily functioning and that is mainly due to my ability to ground myself in the here and now.  By recognizing that the dream was not reality and allow that Flynn's death was real but not my immediate trauma I have been able to function normally.  I do need to practice constant self-awareness (social work lingo) though to ensure that I am not impacting or affecting my work due to this grief burst.  Other than working out my feelings through this blog, I think that I have handled today to the best of my ability.  This is just life with grief in the side car!


  1. You're one of the strongest people I know.

  2. Grief, misery & pain: they all love company.
    But what is the hardest to deal with is the new thing; laughing.
    Then when I miss her the most.
    When I wish I was there laughing with her.
    The time I hear a piece of tender music & turn around to dance with her & I stand alone.
    When I walk home on a warm summer's evening, just after it has rained.
    There is a strong smell of jasmine in the air, as my shoulder brushes past the jasmine brush that climbs up along the high brick wall.
    I walk home smelling your favourite jasmine & I realise it has become my favourite smell.
    I imagine you walk me safely home.
    Laughing on a warm summer's night & I miss you.