Grief is certainly not a one-way street. Grief doesn’t have arrows pointing down a yellow brick road for us to follow. I have found that grief really has no real definition other than: it’s complicated.
I was fine, or so I thought. My life looked completely put together on the outside.
Yet on the inside a storm was brewing inside me, unbeknownst to me. I was suppressing feelings I had no idea I was pushing deeper down inside me. I packed my emotions inside a container that could no longer fit them, so my emotions spilled over until I could no longer hide them. That container began bursting slowly at the seams. I completely fell apart after the last few stitches could no longer hold me together.
Grief’s timeframe was rather odd for me. I found myself experiencing the emotions of raw, unimaginable grief at around the three and a half year mark.
I crawled to my therapist after a particularly intense night in which I felt like I could no longer function. He gave me a name for what I was experiencing: complicated, delayed grief.
Complicated grief is when the grief process is stalled and “symptoms” do not improve with time. This does not mean that one day you will suddenly not miss your lost loved one anymore or that you will begin to live as if they never existed. This means that your emotional state in jeopardy because you are having difficulties coming to terms with the loss.
For me personally, I lived in the shadow of my late husband. I had taken over his job and essentially was living the life he would have lived if he had never left us. Four years into my job, I realized that living that life was keeping me from living my own life. I accepted that I could still honor his memory even if I didn’t live in it.
With therapy, many professional psychiatric appointments, and the support of family, I finally did what I needed to do. Four years to the day of my husband’s funeral, I handed in my resignation.
Grief is different for everyone. I took four years to finally “resolve” my husband’s death and move on. Year five also hit me very hard but I was able to cope better because I had a new job and was living my life. I wasn’t surrounded by the reminders of the life he should have lived.
I finally accepted his death and subconsciously that was not something I was going to allow myself to do without help. Making the decision to leave my job was the best thing I ever did for my mental health and for my grieving process. I am finally in a good place. I let myself chase my own dreams and have even allowed myself to be loved again.
The road we all walk on in coming through our grief will not be the same. I still continue to walk the path of grief, but this time, I make sure I do not stop on the side of the road and sit as everything and everyone else passes me by. I learned I am allowed to feel what I feel and I am allowed to be sad and miss my husband but those feelings do not have to be a permanent fixture in my life.
Yes, it’s complicated. I have moved forward with my grief but that doesn’t mean I can’t honor the life I once had. I learned to find the balance in feeling my emotions and not allowing those emotions to completely consume me.
We will not all come out on the other side of grief at the same point. If we continue to walk forward at a steady pace, we will be able to come out at the point that is most beneficial for us and the rest of the path our lives are meant to take.