I have been thinking a lot recently and reflecting on what grief is and what it isn’t. Of course this means that I have researched so many posts and quotes on Pinterest, but from day 1 I have wanted to be assured that however I felt it was okay and whatever pains and behaviours were a part of my life that it was normal. I wanted to be sure that grief was a phase and not an identity!
Periodically people ask or imply that maybe I am depressed? and it winds me up something rotten. Why? they’re only concerned surely? Maybe so, but to me its not only trying to label me and make it into my identity, but also because my biggest fear from loosing Poppy was that I would become depressed because of the difficulty of it all and that I wouldn’t be able to cope. I worried that people wouldn’t be there for me, get bored with it all or stop remembering. That they would misunderstand or not get it would take time and affect me and think it was more than grief. I just wanted to survive and so I love to be assured (through SANDS and when I had counselling) that I am normal; my emotions, feelings, thought patterns, questions etc are all a result of GRIEF and not a mental illness, but that grief does cause a whole host of emotions, feelings and behaviours
I know that grief is a result of love, it is a feeling of broken heartedness, an escape because love had no where to be channelled.
Grief is lonely, it causes you to feel alone as no one else understands, no one else gets it, and it becomes frustrating that they stop asking because they have no answers to your questions.
Grief is angry, it burns up inside, it makes you mad at everyone, everything and every situation. On angry days nothing is right, everyone can do one!
Grief is bitter…it makes you resentful, annoyed and ticked off with how it turned out. Others lives are mint so why isn’t mine?
Grief is irritable – not patient, not submissive, but no time for anyone or anything and easily provoked and wound up over things…its the end of the world and no one gets it!
Grief is debilitating..intensely emotional and painful.
But is it Selfish?
I was told a while back that I was being really selfish, moody and more recently expect too much. When you are not yourself or cannot control this roller coaster, comments like that cut deep and are confusing to someone battling grief. I’ve never been told I’m selfish or expect too much before any of this.
Since this whole thing began, I have been told to “take care of me”…”let it out”…”be honest”, “only do what you can manage”, “ask for help” (the list goes on) None of those things are easy for me, I am not naturally a person that only considers me and my needs. I am naturally one who will look at others and their needs and want to help and just plough through and get on with my struggles. so how is that selfishness, to be aware and not want to put others out?
I love to talk when I have a problem, but only to the few people I trust have my best interests at heart, and when I talk it takes a lot to show myself that vulnerable and then being honest about thoughts and emotions you know people will never understand, or being honest about how it feels, how others make you feel etc having a rant when your angry and don’t even know why so anyone that day will get it. Its not personal, it hard and confusing…its not moody its pain and it is even harder to explain, but I have tried and sadly it hasn’t always gone down well. I find that people cannot deal with me letting it out, they do not like to hear the pains of your soul or how you don’t want to socialise that day, there must be an issue because you cannot take any more. Taking care of yourself suddenly becomes a concern. Not wanting to chat to people or asking for help without offering anything, wanting support and being mad or frustrated with people suddenly is a selfish trait, never being satisfied because life is a mess means you are ungrateful.
They say they care and love you so why Is it selfish to behave like this because your burdens are so heavy? Why am I selfish because I want to do what everyone is advising me to do? Why is it selfish to not have the energy to give people what I used to? Am I sick because I am still suffering and don’t know what I need? Maybe grief is selfish or maybe it is me…
I hate that this happened initially, no one should have to loose a child, let alone have the people around you view you as selfish because you are trying to muddle through and protect yourself. Then be told you ask too much of people? Grief may appear to make one selfish but it is because the hurt is so bad they must protect themselves, they want help but they don’t know what help it is, they want love, but can’t always handle it.
I have found that the only way to survive a crisis and trauma is by having people to help you through it and having someone to listen, lift, support and be there unconditionally. This is a hard role to fill, especially when you can not understand or know what to say. Often I don’t need anyone to say anything…I just want hugs, someone to put their arm around me and say “however selfish, lost or angry you are I will not abandon you, this isn’t about me, its about you and I will stand by you through it all”, I need someone who will hold my hand until I am steady enough to walk alone.
The only cure for grief is to grieve. So this may mean I am not who I used to be, it may mean I communicate poorly, it may mean I cannot offer others what I once could…that I take with out seeming to give in return. I may have even turned into a selfish person, I don’t know? but what I do know is that I have a lot of love with nowhere for it to go, a broken heart and dreams and a whole lot of questions with no answers (yet). Grief is selfish yes, because all I see is my pain, all I see is the loss, but I am not my grief. Beneath the anger, beneath the tears and confusion and the uncertainty, there is ME – caring, strong, faithful, confident and full of love and joker Mary. Yes often I am overshadowed by grief…demanding, isolated, disconnected, afraid, lost and even selfish in how I react, but I am not my grief and I do not want to be judged for how it makes me, because I am still here.
Grief is lots of things, even selfish, but I am not my grief, I am just in a phase, a season, a time of life that I have to live with it and hope others can and will too…however long it lasts, and chances are there will be seasons again throughout my life that these emotions and behaviours will resurface due to anniversaries, dates, smells or just because.