A Keeping It Real Post
Have you ever had an injury that had mostly healed and then, because it was already weak, it was easily re-injured? It was quicker to hurt and it instantly took you back to the original injury. The same is true with bereavement. Re-Grieving is the sucker punch that hits you at your weakest point, no matter how much healing has occurred.
What is Re-Grief? It’s when dealing with a new loss forces you to relive the loss of your husband. It’s the ultimate double-whammy. I spent a lot of time thinking about Re-Grieving this summer. I had a front row seat as a friend, and fellow W, went through the process all over again with the death of another family member. It was brutal and painful to witness. Her re-grief hit me, too, and it hurt.
Maybe it’s because every cell in our bodies remembers the pain all too clearly. Maybe it’s because our ability to love and empathize with others is sharper and more in focus. Maybe it’s because, like that old injury, we’re weaker in that spot. Who knows. All I know is it was all too easy to feel myself falling into the spiral of Re-Grief, even when it wasn’t mine.
Well, last week it was all mine. I learned of the loss of one of my childhood friends. I wasn’t alone when I got the news, but was on the other side of the planet. We had lost touch over the years, re-connected only by the easy access of social media, but it bitch-slapped me. And I was unprepared for how much it hurt. Like that old ankle injury screaming at me when I stepped into an invisible cow hole in the bog (yeah, it’s a thing) while hiking in the Scottish Highlands last year, the news ripped at the scars of my grief.
But, just like re-injuring my ankle, I knew what to do this time, which helped to speed up the healing process. Because I’ve learned to give myself permission to feel the feelings, I just excused myself and went to my room to have a good cry. No reason to let my grief spill out on my friends. But damn, it felt so lonely.
Icing and ibuprofen won’t help with Re-Grief, but having a grief buddy does. I was desperate to connect with another human who had known her. So I picked up the phone and called our mutual friend whose insomnia wouldn’t be insulted by the time difference, so we could cling together in the shock of losing “one of us.” My heart broke for her mom, her husband, and everyone else left behind. I know their pain. My grief buddy let me sob it out. That long-distance hug made all the difference.
If you’re a regular reader, you already know how lonely grief is. Somehow sharing it with someone else makes it a little less isolating. Somehow, in the pain, we are reminded that we are still alive and not alone, no matter how lonely it is. It’s why we reach out to others after a disaster or tragedy. We feel the intense need to connect with another person who knows and understands what we’re feeling.
The Opposite of Lonely
Not really sure what I was going for here, just my random thoughts on Re-Grieving as I mourn another life taken too soon. As for the loneliness of bereavement, it will always be there, but the universe has a way of making sure I have what I need. Later that same evening, my favorite twelve year-old came bounding over to give me a hug. He didn’t know anything about what had happened that afternoon, but somehow knew I needed one. And maybe that’s the answer to it all, finding that connection with another human to remind us that, no matter what, we aren’t alone. Grief is universal. But so is love. I’m not sure how to describe how that hug made me feel, but for now I’ll go with the opposite of lonely.
The Wandering Widow
Live Now. Dream Big. Love Fierce.
Happy Birthday, Yoko. I’ll be forever grateful that you were part of my story, and some of my best memories. Thank you for sharing your light with the rest of us.
Alone together, beyond the crowd
Above the world
We’re not too proud to cling together
We’re strong as long as we’re together
Alone together, the blinding rain
The starless nights were not in vain
For we’re together
And what is there to fear together?
Our love is as deep as the sea
Our love is as great as a love can be
And we can weather the great unknown
If we’re alone together, together, together
If we’re alone together
Written by: ARTHUR SCHWARTZ, HOWARD DIETZ
Lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc., CARLIN AMERICA INC