Disclaimer: I think I might just be all over the place in this one. Hmmm????
Now that I think about it....that is the nature of grief at times.
In the earliest days of Grief, it can feel as though you are standing in midair like a cartoon character who will momentarily fall.
Even if the death of your person was expected, the experience of unrealness is pervasive. You go through the motions required, because, unless you have completely collapsed for days and days on end, incoherent and unable to even feed or dress yourself, some part of you takes over and manages to take care of business, even as a fog of disbelief settles around you like a shroud.
You may have read it somewhere. Or perhaps someone shared this truth: "You are in shock. AND you will be for some time." For me, it was over a year. In fact it was close to two, before I was able to become aware of how much shock I had been suffering. Of course, in my case, as for many, many others, the pandemic threw me under the proverbial bus and I realize now, delayed my evolution of grief.
One day, though, the light looks a little different and you shake your head, as though coming out of a deep sleep or the effects of anesthesia. You're still grieving, but something feels subtly different.
Before that though?
There is a meme that flew around me for the first six months. Allegedly some Indigenous Wisdom, that says someone who is grieving is closer to the Void and considered to be Holy or Sacred.
That is how it felt to me. Not holy or sacred, but standing on the edge of the Void. Reaching out for my Beloved, teetering. Unable to touch him and unable to fully fall into the Void.
"Still Breathing." is how I came to label my state of being on any given day. Because, the truth was, at that time, I wanted nothing more than to follow him into that Unknown. I lay awake in my bed, trying to will myself into non-existence. Attempting to stop breathing long enough to leave my body behind. I dropped into a deep understanding of the practice of Sati; those women in India who sacrificed themselves on their husband's funeral pyre.
What I have come to realize, through my own experience, and that of sharing with and listening to others, is that it can feel as though we are dissolving. Nothing feels real any longer. It is as though everything you touch and do and say and experience is, well, like being stoned, totally baked, and you can't trust your senses to give you the 'real' info necessary to orient yourself to your environment.
And, if you are reading this and you are grieving, you probably noticed that I have not yet mentioned the pain. The sheer agony of loss that is well beyond sadness or sorrow is an actual physical sensation, made even more intense by the way our minds and hearts are responding. I'll just say this, and keep in mind that I gave up trying to be careful not to hurt someone's feelings while I was in the deepest part of my grief:
If someone tries to tell you "It can't be that bad." or "You should just get over it because your grief won't bring them back." Or any number of dismissive attempts to fix you or avoid their own unprocessed grief'... ...even if just in your mind...Tell them to Back The Fuck Off or you'll punch them straight in the nose. Not enough to break it. Just enough to make their eyes water!
It is hard to set boundaries when we are dissolving from the inside out. Yet....if we don't set them, the well intentioned, as well as the not so well intentioned, can add to our pain by having us question our own sanity because what we are feeling and experiencing is so real. They are attempting to gaslight us into believing we should not be sad, or making the choices we are making, or, and perhaps this is the most telling.....making them feel uncomfortable.
Don't blame them. They are acting from their own ignorance, or their own pain, or their own unmetabolized grief. In the immediacy of your own grief it is not your job to educate them about what helps and what doesn't, but when you are ready, spread the word. If we don't, then our Grief Avoidant Culture will never find a way back to practices that support the reality of grief and how it binds a community together.
May we all learn to embrace those who grieve and not turn away. And this is ALL of us. This is how we heal ourselves and this is how we heal the World.
Post Script Disclaimer:
I probably don't say this enough, because I get into my own 'stuff', but never do I mean to imply that my experiences and expression of grieving are universal. Each of us has our own unique experience and expression.