Grief is an Emotional Roller Coaster.
Stop the ride, please! I want to get off. This grief journey seems to be the longest roller coaster ride of changing emotions that I never actually chose to get in line to ride. There doesn’t appear to be an end in sight to all the ebbs and flows and I am weary of this ride. Why can’t this ride be more like a monorail, steady, straight, and smooth?, Or the friendly train rides that give families a gentle tour of the perimeter of some theme park, slow and soothing to ride on? Instead I find each day there is a measure of unpredictability as to what feelings or experiences will get pulled out of grief’s mixed bag of surprises. And as I continue to get closer to that two year mark, I wish I could say the ride has leveled out and become a lot more predictable, but I can’t say that yet.
The thing about grief is that though I choose to put a smile on and a cheerful tone for my children, some emotions are just too strong and cannot be suppressed. I “fake it til’ I make it” in conversations within my social circle and community, but a powerful flood of emotion cannot be avoided and often comes unexpectedly and out of nowhere. The only healthy way to make it through this flood is to face it square on and do just that: Aim to go through. Not under, over, or around, but straight through the eye of the storm.
This roller coaster ride can’t be avoided, though sometimes I laugh that from the outside looking in it may seem to others that I’ve lost my mind. I must “feel my feelings fully” on this ride through grief and loss. If the coaster is dropping fast and I’m thrust into the valley, then the only way to make it, is to be honest about what I am feeling there. I need to be real. I need find ways to put to words what is going on inside and express and release. I need to be free to cry however many buckets of tears are necessary and to remember that with each tear shed comes a small bit of healing. That is progress though it doesn’t feel like it at the time.
When the ride levels, I need to give myself permission to have a “better” day. (If there is such a thing in grief). By “better” let’s say, a day in which the sorrow is there, but not as intense. The burden is lighter and the emotions aren’t raging as strong. These days are for catching my breath, doing something that is relaxing and recharging for me, and having an easier time being adventurous with my kiddos out in the community with less likelihood of a public display of emotion.
After nearly two years of this journey, I can sometimes even feel when the next “drop” is coming. Kind of like riding in the coaster as it slowly climbs upward, preparing for the next major drop. All you can hear is the click click rickety sound and suddenly there is a knot in your stomach because you know exactly what is coming. Anxiety mounts, your hands grip tighter on the safety bar. And if you are me on a coaster, you pray, close your eyes, and scream a lot. Grief has become a bit like that as well. If I can tell I’m headed for a horrible stretch of grief, and can sense that I am about to have “one of those days,” I have to tell myself to keep holding on, keep moving forward, and to remind myself things will level out again for another break, …..eventually. Grief sure is hard work.
How do you cope with the emotional ups and downs of grief?
Please feel free to share in the comments!
In Hope & Prayers,
This Widow Mama