Wifeys & Gentlemen,
This is the 2nd installment in my guest blogger series. Please see part I (here) if you haven’t read it yet.
Thank you for all of the continued love and support for my friend.
One thing I have heard that rings true about grief; we all do it differently. My methods for coping might not resonate for you and vice versa. I believe that there is no “right” or “wrong” way to grieve, it’s a personal, individual process.
I have made the personal choice not to try to suppress my grief with any mild altering substances. This is a lot harder than I expected, especially because the first week, my brain was look for anything and everything to mask the pain. If you have access to something that can do that quickly, it’s very tempting to take the bait.
However, masking the pain with substances really just sets the pain on layaway, and it is 100% guaranteed to come for you later. Masking the pain doesn’t actually take it away. It leaves you to relive your experience over and over again, usually at some random time when you least expect it. I don’t want to do that.
Of course, both avenues are hard, feeling the pain, or drinking it away. I am choosing my hard by feeling every bit of this as it hits me.
The first couple of days, I spent time with the people in my life who I cared about, that could sit in my presence and let me cry, vent, talk, sleep, and actually sit in the discomfort of grief. I am the type of person that fluctuates between needing people around me and needing my alone time. However, I am finding my soul is filled up when I am surrounded by people I love. Still, in the moments where I truly need to fall apart, ugly cry, and scream, I prefer to be alone.
I hate to generalize, but I’d estimate that in the first 24 hrs, you will likely be overcome with shock.
The way it manifested for me was a mix of racing thoughts about Steven and feeling completely numb; I couldn’t feel anything, but I could also feel everything. My heart was pounding, my body activated and shaking, and my chest felt hollow. I kept holding the space where my heart is located, feeling an overwhelming sense of emptiness. My mind was trying to make sense of what happened. Thousands of questions swirled, thoughts of every way this could have been prevented, all the ways I could have changed, and didn’t. Why did this happen? How could this happen? Is this really happening?
I knew I was ripping apart at the seams.
I called my 3 closest girlfriends who came as soon as they could to support me. I don’t know if they know how crucial and important that was for me. In those moments it’s important to surround yourself with people who can hold space for you. Avoid those who want to tell you how to grieve or try to remind you that “he’s in a better place”. Holding space is literally just being. Rely on friends that will be in your presence and create a space that is safe to fall the fuck apart.
You will find that grief makes people uncomfortable.
People don’t know how to behave. I choose to believe that most people have good intentions when they offer advice or help. Some people try to give advice because they want to fix it. They want to take the pain away.
The truth is that no one can. Grieving is such a deep and complex emotion that is really 1000s of emotions that all intertwine with one another, pulling you in different directions. You could ask me “how are you” 50 times a day and I will have a different answer for you each time. You can’t fix it; you just have to sit in it.
There is so much duality in grief.
Every morning, I wake up in both denial and acceptance; denial of my new reality and acceptance of it too. It’s inevitable when you have no other choice. While I am so incredibly sad at the loss of his life, I am also happy that he left this earth knowing how much I love him. I’m happy to know that he isn’t in pain anymore.
I’m grateful that his family decided to let me keep his ashes but destroyed at the fact that he now fits in a plastic bag that sits in a box in my living room. While he was alive, I asked him for space, but in his death, I yearn for his presence. I feel immense guilt for every fight we ever had, but also justified in my position. Through it all, I keep trying to figure out the right way to feel, forgetting that there is never a correct emotion to experience. As the various emotions come and go, I try not to compartmentalize them so much as to just let them pass through me, naturally.
Additionally, I’ve decided to try to give myself as much help and support as I can. I am willing to try just about anything to sort through my feelings.
Here’s some things that are working well:
I was fortunate enough to already have a therapist before any of this happened. Honestly, when I told her, I wasn’t happy with how she responded to my feelings. Apparently, grief really is hard for everyone, even licensed professionals. While therapists are typically trained in how to support a client with grief, not all therapists are experts in everything. I get the sense that my therapist isn’t equipped to help me through this. I am on the search for someone who can help me process all of my feelings and meet me where I am. Therapists are not one size fits all, and that’s ok. They are humans, too. Trust your gut and find someone who is the best fit for your needs.
Writing in my journal
In the past, it was hard for me to commit to keeping a journal. I always found an excuse to not write, convincing myself that my hard hurt from writing too much or never having enough time. When grief hit me, my mind was FLOODED with so many thoughts. My thoughts consisted of every good memory, every fight, everything I wanted to say but didn’t get to say, and the things that happened that I’ll never get to tell him about.
So, I write.
In an effort to empty my brain I started journaling. Without rhyme, reason, or structure, I write my thoughts and my feelings, dumping pieces of myself into the notes section of my iPhone.
I’ve written letters to Steven, which has really helped A LOT.
It’s as if I can talk to him and tell him everything I wanted to say. If you believe in the idea that our loved ones can see and hear us in the afterlife, it’s comforting to write to them, because you feel like they can see it. You feel like the message is getting through.
THIS for me, in my life, has been one of the biggest things that has helped during the grieving process. Talking about Steven, sharing stories, the good, the bad, the in between. Talking about him as if he is still here, or things he liked, has really really helped me.
Of course, I realize that this could change! As you move through the many stages of grief, you may have moments where you don’t want to talk. It’s okay to change your mind and opt to express yourself differently. Please try to take everything as it comes. Make a conscious decision on what works for you in that moment.
For me, talking about Steven’s life, love, and death, has been surprisingly therapeutic.
Getting out of the house
I am making active choices to get out of the house.
I know myself. When I’m sad, I want to stay in my room and watch re-runs of all of my favorite sitcoms. I want to try to forget the fact that Steven is not here anymore. Some of this is fine, I think. Sometimes, staying tucked inside of my room makes me feel good! I need that.
Still, I am also making it a point to get outside. I have been going to places Steven and I loved to go together. Steven loved going to the lake, so I do my best to get out there as often as I can. I swear I’ve gone more times since he’s passed than we did when he was alive. Walking the lake while makes me feel good, but it also makes me miss him terribly and I get waves of sadness. I feel him there. I love experiencing that connection and I’ll take it in whatever capacity I can.
I wasn’t joking when I said there is a lot of dualities in grief. While getting out of the house is great, staying in is fine too. Knowing your limits and listening to your mind/body is just as important.
I had plans to meet up with an old friend today, but when I woke up this morning, I was too fucking sad. It’s been exactly one month since he died, and I didn’t want to make the effort to do anything but lay in my bed, cry, and think about him. That’s ok. You have to do what feels good or helpful in the moment.
The final part of this guest series will be posted next week.
Until Next Time,
Carry on wifeys & gents!
Original blog written by Sarah ❤
In Loving Memory of Steven.
**Please consider donating to Steven’s Memorial Fund.**
Everything helps ❤
Make sure you don’t miss out on Part III…