I was driving home from visiting my oldest daughter for her birthday. It’s a long tedious drive I had done dozens of times. After losing her sister, only 20 months younger than her, and her best friend, I count every birthday as a blessing. She finally looked like my beautiful girl again, except now she was a 23-year-old woman. Grief has given her a maturity in her eyes too young for her sweet face, but on this day, the circles under her eyes seemed faded and I could now see hope and possibilities shining from within her.
The house she lives in still holds recent memories or her sister. Bittersweet to look at, but I am still so thankful to look at them. The funny thing with grief, there is no right way to view loss. I say it again, THERE IS NO RIGHT OR WRONG WAY TO VIEW LOSS! Some people need to put every picture away to cope through their day, some people need every item and picture their loved one held in their presence. I live somewhere in the middle, I need to keep certain things, and all the pictures, but I have learned that I need to find uses for some things, I need to give it a purpose. That is just me, I made boot planters, I had blankets made from clothing, I had bears made, I made Christmas ornaments from sympathy cards. It has given me a feeling of purpose to give things a purpose.
At some point in therapy, even before my daughter passed, I learned most of us carry around these past hurts and feelings we let drive our actions. We have an emotional feeling about a situation and we impulsively act on it without acknowledging the feeling, processing how it makes us feel and letting it move past us. My family of the ADHD variety has always struggled with impulsivity, some of that changes with maturity luckily.
Through losing M, I have had to do this a lot. Process. As I was driving home I made the analogy it is like driving into the storm. Why would anyone want to do that? Driving into a dark ominous mass that is right in front of us gives us the opportunity to come out the other side. To try and run from it, ignore it, or pretend it isn’t there does nothing for us. It eventually catches us off guard and unprepared.
The kind of grief I have been dealing with is called complicated grief. It’s the only name they can give someone that has suffered through an unexpected trauma. All grief is different, complicated grief means I didn’t get a reason for my loss like cancer or a car accident. The passing of my daughter is complicated, to say the least, so what I am doing to keep myself together? Just about everything.
I was driving home thinking about an unpleasant conversation I was going to have about her passing. It wasn’t a conversation I wanted to have, but I knew that if I didn’t have it I couldn’t put this storm, this dark cloud behind me. I have been focusing on the positive, how to help others in her name and this felt icky. Just like cleaning out her closet, this needed to be done. I needed to feel how it made me feel, acknowledge it, have the conversation and move forward. I made the call as I pulled over at the rest area.
Almost home I see the evening sunset after the rain. The grey clouds moving in the direction I had just come from. The conversation wasn’t wonderful but I had made it. I could take a deep breath without thinking about what might be said or what should be said.
Thinking about my recent visit to my daughter, I remember and appreciate the little white butterfly that said hello when I first arrived. It may or may not have been a little hello from heaven, but I appreciated it all the same. I have realized we get the signs and messages when we need them, maybe not always when we want them.
My friend at work recently got married. She had a beautiful wedding in a beautiful private place in either Alaska or Canada. The wedding she planned as a young girl with her best friend.
Every young girl these days most likely has a wedding Pinterest site. When I was young I cut up pictures of gowns and saved them. My friend from work had done the same I am sure. She had everything she ever wished for, the most beautiful place, the most beautiful dress, the handsome groom, but she didn’t have her maid of honor, her best friend, who had passed a few years earlier. On that day, as she stood in the most beautiful place, in her expensive dress, looking into her handsome groom’s eyes, a monarch butterfly circled her and then landed on her white dress. At that moment she was breathless. Heaven had sent her a little gift. Her best friend and maid of honor had sent her love. Here is the picture of that moment as she stood in the sunshine, still shaken by the storm but surrounded now in light and love.