One of our dogs died a couple of weeks ago. It was horrible. Sometimes I think that I have become numb to tragedy because of the terrible tragedy we suffered (and continue to suffer) when our son was killed in a car accident almost 5 years ago. But other times, like when our dog died a couple of weeks ago, it feels as though it only serves to tear off the scab that covers the wound caused by our horrendous loss. That day, I felt like I was living the title of the children’s book, Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day.
It was one of those days.
Here’s a winter picture of our Cecelia, a dog passed to us from our son, then our daughter:
After the shock and pain of losing a fur-baby I loved and cared for, I was relieved because she didn’t suffer. But it took a few days to feel less burdened and relieved for her. Or me. I’m not sure. I cannot tell sometimes if I’m sad for what is happening in the moment, or if my tears and sadness are because something has, once again, jabbed it’s bony finger into my tender, broken heart and stirred up feelings I try to keep at bay.
I have called these deep emotions “my grief monster” since shortly after our son passed away. In the beginning, and for many months, that is what it felt like – a monster I couldn’t control. Waves of grief would come like a tsunami I had no power over and control my every thought and emotion. After a time, I learned some control – enough to go to the grocery store, post office and church without fearing an all-out emotional breakdown – but I still constantly felt (and feel) the heavy burden of sorrow and despair lurking just beneath the surface, waiting for the release only tears will bring.
Sometime after the 2nd anniversary of his death, I began to call my newly learned ability to control my feelings “my grief box”. I felt as though I could control the feelings well enough to get them into my “box” and tamp the lid on it, keeping those feelings controlled for awhile. But the “while” was never for more than a day or two. To be perfectly honest, I’ve not gone more than 3 or 4 days without crying for the almost 5 years since our tragedy. I’ve learned to recognize when, as I call it, the lid is beginning to come loose on my grief box, and I plan accordingly – which means to stay home so I can be myself.
Which leads me to the reason for the title of this blog post:
That is how I feel most of the time when I have to be out and about, interacting with other human beings.
That is what I do most of the time – I fake feeling fine.
I do it so others won’t be uncomfortable.
I do it so I won’t be criticized, corrected, or degraded by comparison (“you think your loss is bad, so-and-so lost…….”) by the ones I felt would be most likely to support me.
I do it because I feel like that is what is expected of me.
I do it because I feel like that is what I should be doing.
Always faking fine.
I’m tired of faking fine.
I’m very, very tired of it.
We have done very little socializing, outside of our family, for the past several months; probably this entire year, in fact. I think it is because we (hubby and I) are so tired of either trying to be fine or faking that we are fine.
We are deeply grieved by the loss of our healthy, vibrant, full-of-life, always greatly liked and loved 25-year-old son.
And I am finally………….finally…………….beginning not to care that people don’t understand why we are not “over it”, “moving on”, being “healed”, “finding new purpose”, or whatever else someone might call what they think we should be doing.
I feel like I have lived most of my life wondering if how I’m living my life measures up.
“Measures up to what?” I never seem to get around to asking myself.
I’m tired of living like this.
I’m especially tired of faking fine when it comes to grieving the loss of one of my children.
We are doing what makes us feel like we are finding peace again. We are doing what WE feel like helps us. Everyone is different, and everyone grieves their own way. Our way is to stay home with each other – the only 2 people in the world who were our son’s parents – and learn how to live again.
We do things, so don’t take what I am saying the wrong way and decide we need an intervention! We just don’t do what some people seem to think we should be doing, or in the way they seem to think we should be doing it. We are doing it our own way.
We still go out to eat (a little too often!) and enjoy the company of our family. This is not the best picture, but here we all (except for the one who ran ahead to heaven) are (Dan and I, kids and grandkids, minus one) on Mother’s Day this past May:
And I still absolutely love, enjoy, and am thankful for the amazing beauty God provides us. I took these pictures while standing in our backyard. From our vantage point, we could see the entire double rainbow, from one end of the bows to the other.
And I spend a good amount of time here, enjoying the solitude on the cozy front porch my hubby built us:
I also spend some time here, decorating the stone for whatever season or holiday is upon us, and reminding myself that my son is still my son, he still loves me, as I love him, and because of our shared faith, I will see him again some day:
I have discovered that I need to figure out who I am…….now. Who my relationships are with…….now. What my purpose might be…….now. And how I’m supposed to move forward in my life……..now.
It’s all very different from what I thought life would be at this point.
But I’m still breathing; I’m still here; there must be a reason and a purpose.
I’ll find it when I’m supposed to, where I’m supposed to, and how I’m supposed to.
In the meantime, I think I’m done with faking fine.