Another 2 1/2 months have passed without a single post. I have no excuse. I just haven’t felt like writing, haven’t had sufficient brain energy or heart to put one sentence on paper that could reasonably be followed by another. Insight — my inner pilot light — was extinguished.

So I waited. Waited for a change. Waited for my grief to let up a little.

Which it did. One afternoon about a week ago, I felt like myself for the first time since David died. I recognized myself in the way you recognize a friend you haven’t seen for many years. There’s a distant familiar ring and a sense that, “Whoa! It’s been a long time.”

The feeling didn’t last, but I was buoyed by the fact that it had returned, albeit briefly. I feared it was lost forever.

What is that feeling? It’s a renewed clarity, where I can concentrate on a thought, or a short series of thoughts, and make connections and possibly decisions before everything evaporates out of my head. I can set a simple goal or two each day and remember them long enough to actually achieve them.

I can even feel glimmers of satisfaction. For so long, any sense of accomplishment was gone, a casualty of a mindset that questioned whether anything mattered.

I feel awake during the day. Some of the numbness that cloaked my mind and draped my emotions has lifted. I’m not constantly watching for the chance to sit down, lie down, fall asleep.

I’ve operated in two modes these many months: (1) struggle to stay in place, and (2) shut down. I’ve been fighting the worry that somehow in my unfocused state, I might lose someone else, or something else, that means the world to me. My grief prevented me from moving forward, so I summoned what little strength I had not to lose ground.

I knew I was doing better when the subject of this blog came up in counseling the other day. Gene referred to “going over the waterfall,” and in my mind I saw myself sitting on the bank. I could feel the wavelets splash my toes, but my butt was firmly in the sand.

Safely back on emotional terra firma, my subconscious let me know that I hadn’t been merely treading water for 11 months like I thought. I’d been in a chaotic fight to keep my head above water. I kept going down, thrashing around, trying to break through the surface, gasping for air. The current was hazardous and the water violent, whipping me this way and that. It wanted to pull me down, keep me under and carry me away.

No wonder I was exhausted all the time. I was fighting for my life.

In 10 days we will observe the one-year anniversary of David’s death. The word “anniversary” really bothers me. It makes me think of a wedding anniversary, a happy, celebratory time. We are not happy, nor celebratory. We are not rejoicing that David’s been gone a year.

In some ways, maybe the anniversary is to honor the fact that we’re still here, not that David is still gone. It’s a chance for us to reflect on the fact that we’ve made it through an entire year. Putting one foot in front of the other, we will have walked through 365 dark days and as many restless nights. We’ve confronted grief, stealthy as a shark, and avoided annihilation.

This has been the hardest year of our lives. But we survived.

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  1. Sam says:

    Thank you for these words on writing about grief. I have been keeping a journal for several years now, but before I started this I had already lost or thrown out the diaries I kept as a child. My sister died age 7 in 1980, so I would have liked to be able to look back on what I wrote as I was growing up. I recently decided to start writing a book about my journey through her death and my healing journey to the present and I found it hard going! It’s still on my to-do list, although, having written only a few pages, has slipped off the top of the pile. If you have any tips for me, I’d appreciate them!

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