I had an appointment with my doctor yesterday. I’ve been off work on sick leave and needed a note to allow me to return to work. I need to get back to work. I need the structure in my day, a reason to get up, a reason to go to bed. Right now I feel like I am free falling – I have no definition to the requirements of my day. It was ten months from Kevin’s diagnosis to his death. In that time my world shrank considerably. There was no easing into his treatments. He was walloped right from the get-go with the radiation. It was so debilitating that he couldn’t even lift his legs onto the bed. My days, necessarily, involved a lot of personal care and attention to Kevin’s needs. Although there was an ebb and flow to the level of support required, since the end of January it had steadily increased until it became all-consuming. Consequently when it ended I was literally without a purpose.
Without a purpose. And so I exist.
Absolutely there are things to do and that have to be done, but that’s just part of existing – we eat, we sleep, go to work and pay our bills. When Kev was alive there was a plan, goals and aspirations – mine and his. Somehow they have all lost their lustre. And so, for now I am existing, no long term plans, no goals or aspirations in place. I know this is part of the grieving process, but knowing doesn’t make it any easier or any less lonely.
I find that I draw distinctions now about grief, for example, was it a sudden death or a prolonged illness resulting in death? The emotional response is significantly different on several levels. Obviously the relationship; spouse, relative, friend, child – all very different grieving processes. The type of illness, the age, the death experience itself. I have an insatiable need for details so I can compare them to my own experience – however, I’m the first person to say every single experience is different. And it is different, each and every situation, no family dynamics are ever the same, no two individuals will have had the same life experience.
In my case, my family, friends and acquaintances will know of the singular experience that I am grieving (my husband’s death) but theirs will be an external view. They may have an idea of how I am feeling, but they won’t ever know what I am going through, how could they? Just like me with my children, their feelings will be uniquely their own and will be different for each one and different from mine. I won’t say “I know what you’re going through,” because I don’t exactly. Who knows what’s going on in another person’s mind? I do say, ” I miss him everyday. He loved you very much.” Because he did, and because they need to work through their own grief in their own way secure in the knowledge of his love. I won’t say, “time heals all wounds,” or “in time it won’t hurt so much,” because right now it doesn’t feel like it will, because right now it implies that Kevin’s value will lessen as time passes, it implies forgetfulness, it lacks depth. I will say “yes honey it hurts” and stay in the present tense because that’s where we are now and it is painful and it is personal and he was a huge influence in all of our lives. Perhaps my sensitivity meter is up or perhaps this is the way most people feel when they grieve. I do know that I’d gladly miss the platitudes and settle for a simple and genuine “I’m so sorry to hear about Kevin” – it pretty much covers everything.