Sunday, January 18, 2009

Doing What I Can Do.

On the 4th of January, I found this book at Borders. I sat down in front of the bookshelf and began to read a few pages of it. My eyes began to well and tears began streaming down my cheeks when I read the following passage:

"Who has died in your life that has led you to this book? ... No matter who died or how they died, your story and grief are unique. The pain you are experiencing cannot be compared to or minimized. It doesn't matter how old the person was who died or that someone else's situation seems worse than yours. If you loved them or they were a significant part of your life, then your pain is real and your grief is valid."

"In psychological terms, grief is defined as 'the anguish experienced after significant loss, usually the death of a beloved person'. Finding ways to express your anguish or pain and reconcile your loved one's death are important parts of grieving. You might need to tell your story over and over again, or search for answers in an attempt to understand what happened. And you may have to wrestle with difficult memories, regrets and 'if onlys'."

"It's common for people to say that in the beginning they were able to talk about the death of their loved one, but that as time went on they found it increasingly difficult, for fear of burdening those around them. As a whole, Western society isn't very good at supporting those who are grieving. This probably has a lot to do with the fact that many people tend to find the subject of death uncomfortable, especially because there is nothing that can be done to 'fix' the problem. There is also a general perception that grief is something you can get over easily and in a relatively short period of time, in much the same way as you'd recover from an infection. Unfortunately this misperception is perpetuated because people, despite their best intentions, don't really understand the complexity of grief. What often ends up happening is that they become impatient with the bereaved person's so-called 'lack of progress' and say things that imply they should be better by now. The problem is that grief is not widely understood - grieving is a process of adjustment and new learning that cannot be hurried."

A sense of relief washed over my little blue heart as I finished that last line. I thought to myself, "At last! Someone has articulated the emotions of my painful heart." With the book in my hand, I ran to my husband to show it to him. I needed to get this book but my circumstances didn't allow me that day. But a few days ago, on an outing with my mom, I found myself almost dragging my feet while walking toward the shelf holding this book. I was afraid it had been purchased by some lucky soul. I felt a grin creeping up my lips when I saw this book, nicely sitting there smiling back at me. Mom bought this book for me as an early birthday present. I needed this book. I need to read this book. I need to ease the pain in my heart.

Surprisingly, I didn't devour the book greedily as I thought I would the first time I read the above passages. I seem to be taking it slowly. Maybe I needed to make sure I don't do a slap dash job at fixing what was wrong with me. I know a year has passed since my loss. But I also know that I was being a resistant client. I'm not afraid to let go of the pain. But I am not eager to forget my soul brother in the healing process. As the book says:

"...the best advice is to take things slowly and pay attention to your inner voice. Listen to your grief. Even though, logically, you know your loved one has died, you need time to reconcile what has happened and to work out what is best for you. Unfortunately, at a time when you are likely to be most vulnerable, grieving requires you to become your best advocate by speaking up for what you need."

"Healthy grieving involves getting through all the firsts: holidays, birthdays, significant dates and the first anniversary of your loved one's death. Remember that there is no magic cure for grief. There is no quick fix."

I've survived through a few of the firsts... last year's birthdays and the first anniversary of his death. The pain is not as intense as the previous ones. But it's still there. The pain. It's still there. If only there is a switch that I can just turn off the grieving and the pain. Grief is very painful. I want it to stop. But I can't make it stop. I am hopeful that this book will guide me to a place in time where I can control myself better and this grief will be replaced with only lovely memories that will make me smile without the tears.