Hot NOT to Grieve
People say, “There’s really no wrong way to grieve,” but I think there is, and I perfected it.
When my mom died, I processed my grief through the lens of age (at 18, I didn’t have life experience, perspective, or wisdom under my belt), the lens of faith background and family of origin experience, and the operating system I was born with, what I would call my Enneagram type (arguably a Type 7). I don’t like pain, and I prefer to skip it to get to the next positive feeling.
So I did all the wrong things. I did not cry from the time my mom passed away until we had arrived back in Alaska to resume our lives as youth pastors. I insisted on putting Mama’s makeup on her in her casket because after all, it was just a body lying there—my mom was in heaven. I sang Because He Lives at her funeral. I needed to be strong for everyone, and I chose to focus on the fact that Mama was in a better place rather than on the fact that the person who had loved me more than anyone else on earth was no longer on this planet with me.
The pain all erupted when I tried to settle back into normal life. Chip was so patient with me. I hadn’t allowed myself to feel the pain, so it all came out at once in nightmares, uncontrollable sobbing for hours, and other yucky ways. I was a huge mess.
So I guess I had a practice round. It is different losing your child, but pain is pain. I now know you can’t skip it. Instead, I’m choosing to let myself cry, let myself me numb, let myself be “normal” – all in unpredictable patterns. What I won’t do right now is let my mind go certain places that I know I am not yet ready to handle. And I won’t let myself get stuck in crying and inertia. I cry and cry and then I get up and get something to eat or text a friend or do something to move forward with my day. I put one foot in front of the other when all I want to do is stay in bed. So far, this strategy is working.
There are many ways to grieve. One size does not fit all. But maybe you can learn from my mistakes what NOT to do when faced with loss.