The loss of a loved one is so profound. There are a million ways in which one can cope with the loss and grief of this event. Some people grieve silently, some out loud. Some keep busy and others seek out comfort from their loved ones. Grief can look like many different things and take over at any time. I remember being in Potbellys when the wave of grief for my dad hit me. The musician that was playing in the window started playing a Beetles song. I remembered my dad playing that song on his record player. I ran out of the restaurant sobbing as the tears flowed.
I have been raised to be the strong one, the get things done girl, the rock, the pull my big-girl pants up girl, the stand tall and be the last man standing girl. That is my role, my ethic in all that I do, even how I grieve. This is also my curse.
In my mind, I am the one that takes care of everyone. I’m the mom. I’m the wife. I’m the fierce protector of my family that my parents raised me to be. I am the strong face that lets everyone know that everything is going to be OK. The problem is, I neglect to take care of myself while taking care of others. I have not allowed myself to grieve. I have not taken care of myself. I have to learn how to do this. It’s hard to unlearn habits you have carried with you all of your life.
Today I surrendered.
After being sick for almost 3 weeks and having a headache for a whole week, today I took myself to the doctor. Apparently, I have been walking around with a sinus infection and some nasty “school virus” for some time.
Later in the morning, I cried about spilling my coffee. The tears just spilled out of me. The tears flowed down my face just as easily as the coffee flowed over the kitchen counter. Both the coffee and myself were a big mess.
The truth is, those tears were not about the coffee. That was my moment of vulnerability. My moment to let the grief I have been feeling spill out. I miss my dad and I miss Eric’s dad. I grieve for the fact that I don’t have a dad with me anymore. I grieve for Eric, because now he knows this feeling of loss. I grieve for my girl’s loss as they believe that their grandfathers were the two of the most influential people in their lives and now they are gone.
I blamed my tears on the coffee mess and the fact that I was not feeling well. There was a moment of confusion on Eric’s face, as I sobbed in his arms. The poor guy probably thought I had either over-dosed on antibiotics, was having a serious menopausal meltdown or I had not caffeinated myself early enough in the day. As I tried to shake it off and compose myself, I knew that he knew what was really wrong. He gave me space, let me cry and then allowed me to pull myself together again and emerge from the room composed and strong again.
The weird thing is, I felt so much better after I cried. My headache went away. My cough subsided a little bit. I think I needed to cleanse myself of the feeling I was holding onto in order to protect the ones I love. I think now I know I need to protect myself too.
I will wake up tomorrow and probably go back to my same old habits, but I have learned a lesson in this day. Being vulnerable makes you strong. Being resilient makes you strong. Being loved by those that go before you makes you strong. Holding on to their precious memories makes you strong. Having love in your life and giving love makes you strong. Shedding tears makes you strong. At the end of this day, I am stronger than I was when I woke up this morning. I will stay strong.