“If you do not take the time to grieve, you cannot find a future in which loss is remembered and honored without pain.” -Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
Grief – there aren’t really words to describe what grief does to your psyche – what grief is. There are books and books on the subject. You can find lectures. You can find internet advice. And yet, you will still be left wondering, “am I doing this right? What is wrong with me? Why am I not feeling what I’m supposed to be feeling?”
For the past few days, I have been…just floating along. I haven’t cried. I haven’t ached. I’m just existing. I’ve done laundry. I’ve done dishes. I’ve fixed meals. I took flowers out to his grave. There’s just an emptiness here. And yet, I feel continuously heavy. A weight blankets my every move. I can never fully expand my chest when I breathe.
Guilt, I expected. Panic, I expected. Anger, fear, anxiety, overwhelming sorrow, an agonizing ache that cannot be fulfilled – all of it, I expected. This emptiness though – this hole in the middle of me, this nothingness – I did not expect that. This howling, screaming empty feeling that makes me WANT to be able to find the tears. Where did they go? They were here a few days ago. Why can’t I feel anything?
I didn’t expect to be able to function in the immediate weeks after he died. And yet, functioning is what I’m doing. Truthfully, my expectation was that I would stay confined to my bed, sobbing, wailing, tearing out my hair.
Grief isn’t like that. It is different every hour. It sneaks up on you, leaves you breathless, sobbing so hard that you think the tears will never stop, and then the agony leaves again for a little while. There is some time to breathe.
I keep thinking that I’m doing ok. And then I look around the house and I see that I haven’t touched his stuff yet – not really. His dirty laundry is still in the bedroom in his basket. His medical supplies (those that can’t be used by another trisomy baby) are still in the bin on his dresser. His clothes are still in the drawers with his hats and blankets and socks. I picked up a pair of his little pants today, and my heart just hurt. His bed remains in the living room. His medicine safe is still on top of the fridge. His basket of diapers and wipes remains next to the couch. His scale is still on our dresser.
There are reminders of him everywhere in our house. Every place I look, James is there. He lived his short life out within these walls, and his presence permeates this house, our home together.
We miss him so much that sometimes it almost hollows me out, and I can’t feel anything. Or maybe the grief just eventually makes me numb for a while. I just wish I knew if I was doing this right – if this is how I am supposed to feel…