I suffer from dry eyes, I see the eye doctor tomorrow. I wonder what the effect of constant crying will have on my eye tests. I’ve cried for 47 days straight, I didn’t know that was possible for someone with dry eyes but it turns out having dry eyes doesn’t mean you can’t cry. It just means your tears aren’t as optimal as other people’s tears. But have they tested eyes from extreme crying? Maybe they can do a study? I work where they study just about anything. I’d like to study the effects of rockstars on the teenage brain, and I’ve mentioned it to the people in white coats, but that again is another post for a different day.
I work with many amazing facial plastic surgeon’s. Before I began down this path of sadness, I was using their recommended night creams and I was relatively impressed with my mid-forties appearance. Amazingly, if you ugly cry enough, not only can one increase the horizontal wrinkles or the occipitofrontalis but also over the corse of one month, obtain vertical wrinkles the corrugator supercilii. I am sure I have impressed the young residents with my abilities.
All the freezer meals are gone, the flowers are dried up, the cards are hanging from ribbons. I am blessed to have had an entire community supporting our family. Now that I am back to work, I look forward to the constant questions of “How are you? How’s your husband? Are you doing better today?” I am guessing 47 days seems long in our social media crazed time where a celebrity can rise and fall in 48 hours. I realize now that people need to hear you say you are ok. I am not prone to saying things that aren’t true, so it always put me in a quandary. I have been answering with things like crappy, or I’m here, until I realized I am being slightly mean. It seems to put people off. Then I started dodging people in the hallways at work and around town. I can see the hug coming a mile away. Unfortunately, the halls at work are not for the mild claustrophobic, so usually I am stuck either turning around completely or moving at a super sonic speed.
Why is pain taboo? I work as a nurse. Why does pain make us uncomfortable? I am guessing because we are a culture of quick fixes. We need to find a solution and move on. There are so many other cultures that embrace and understand pain. A friend wrote to me that the depth of grief is the depth of love, that in the Jewish culture there is a period of seven days (shiva), 30 days (shloshim) and twelve months (avelut). It is expected the person will need to fall apart and rebuild their lives.
When my kids were little, I always looked forward to a shower. Many times I don’t get one when they were babies, but as I went back to work, I enjoyed the hot water on my sore legs and back and the need to wash any work cooties off of me. It became my time to think, problem solve, review my day, think about the next day, pray, or just take a deep breath before switching gears. I’ve taken to crying in the shower.
First of all, I’ve always been somewhat of a multitasker, I could wash my face and not have to worry about needing a kleenex. Second of all, my emotions are extremely intense, I am trying not to overwhelm my two girls still living at home. It is actually therapeutic. I can’t seem to problem solve now, but I can just be. That’s my small piece of advice to my friend’s in any sort of pain. Just be. Be ok with not being ok, even if the only way to be ok is crying in the shower.
Don’t worry too much, I am paying a grief counselor, though I am already on my second one. The first counselor asked me if I was going to have a panic attack when I got on a plane again next week. I said, “Well I am now!” Then she told me to pray to MY god. I then moved on to the second recommendation. His big advice was to “Fake it”. Why? Why should I fake emotions I do not have? They were both set up through a program at work.
I am not even kidding when I tell you I pulled up in the driveway of counselor number two, without first googling the address, only to find the office at the entrance to the apartments where my daughter passed away. I was looking out the window at the building. That would be just be oddly coincidental except I need to also add the first counselor was at the entrance to the cemetery where I buried my daughter. I cannot even make this stuff up folks. I wanted to face my grief head on. Apparently God takes me literally.
My advice for those knowing someone going through this, and my advice for myself for to anyone I ever meet going through this deep pain is to just listen. My mother-in-law always says “my heart to yours”. Try not to tell the person how they are going to be reincarnated into a flower or something, or how you only get what you can handle, or how you will see your loved one again in your dreams. I already have nightmares. (Sorry friends who said these things. I still love you.)
When I decided to speed up our engagement to get married over Spring Break instead of June, and it was February, I hastily grabbed a wedding planning book with a checklist for everything. A year later, with the birth of my daughter, I again grabbed the What to Expect when you are Expecting book. When I had one week to pick out a cemetery, a casket, design a headstone, plan a memorial, and write an obituary, where was the book? (Maybe I should write one?) It was like planning an insane wedding with only a few days, under extreme duress, with no ability to know what the bride would have wanted. I am pretty sure it could be a reality T.V. show. Netflix, Amazon, you read it here first.