Today marks one year since my mother’s soul passed over. But, as one life ends, another begins. Her birth allowed her grandmother to see how a new life overshadowed her son’s death. And now, after one year, I feel my life begin anew.
Does one year seem a long time to feel the wounds of grief heal? Or perhaps it has been a time of healing other wounds too.
What is the Right Way to Grieve?
I’ve got some good news for you. First, there isn’t one right way to grieve. Each person moves through grief differently. And that will change each time you experience it. After all, death marks the end of physical life, but you shared so many memorable moments before.
Second, no one can judge your grief experience. It belongs to you.
However, there has been much research about the grieving process, which may help you understand your feelings.
I can best illustrate some of this process by sharing my experience with complicated grief.
Complicated grief occurs when you can’t resume normal activities because your grief keeps getting in the way. As expected, this aspect of grief is multi-faceted. For me, the most obvious was my delayed grief.
Delayed grief occurred when I had excessive reactions years after my father died.
Dad loved visiting Bok Tower Gardens in Lake Wales, Florida. He started making knives late in life using blacksmithing techniques, including pattern welding. He admired the beauty of Samuel Yellin‘s ironwork on the gates and bridges that connect to the tower’s location. This photo was taken during one of my parents’ winter visits to Florida in the 1980s, after they had moved to Saguache County, Colorado.
I also loved Bok Tower and was a volunteer Garden Guide in the years before COVID. We ended each garden tour at the tower, pointing out Edward Bok’s gravesite with the white flowers and explaining the meaning of the bronze door. On one of these tours, I was suddenly overcome with uncontrolled sobbing. It occurred just as I turned away from my group of twenty tourists to talk about the door.
Taking a deep breath, I wiped the tears away, turned around, and quickly finished the tour. A few people stayed behind to offer their loving understanding. Somehow, I kept from completely breaking down. It was the winter of 2018.
I had lost my grandparents, divorced my first husband, experienced being a suicide survivor of my second marriage, and comforted my father as he died an unaided death at home. All these losses spanned forty-five years, but they had started coming closer together with my husband’s suicide in September 2014 and Dad’s death in April 2015.
Grief doesn’t have to be as dramatic or cumulative as mine to suffer deep wounds. However, when it interferes with normal activity, it’s a sign to seek help, which I have often done.
But What is Normal Activity?
I’d also like to share that my perception of ‘normal activity’ had become skewed.
Did I experience ‘normal activity’ before my 23-year marriage ended in divorce? Then I lived in a world that revolved around my husband’s wants and the demands of mothering two sons. I had no concept of my own dreams. Was that normal?
The truth is that my life doesn’t feel like it was ever normal. What a relief!
So today marks one year. And as I continue healing my grief wounds, I can create a normal life that is mine. The possibilities are endless. Your options to create the life you want are endless too.
With love and compassion,