I read a post just now. My heart squeezed in pain as it usually does. This is what I read. Below that is what I wrote back to her.
Suzie’s Story, A Journey Through MSA, Cancer and Life
Waiting for the cloud to lift.
Posted: 06 May 2014 03:31 AM PDT
What is ‘normal’ when it comes to grief? It’s now eight weeks since my precious Suzie passed away, yet the aching sadness that greets me as I awake each morning seems more intense than ever. Some people tell me I’m expecting too much of myself and I should be more gentle with myself…. others have said things that make me think I should be ‘getting over it’ by now.
I’m trying to ‘do’ all the right things and I’m certainly not just sitting at home feeling sorry for myself. I’m spending a lot of time with my family and with one or two close friends, and I’m trying to push myself to go out, however difficult it may be. Some days I succeed, other days I don’t. Sometimes it feels like I’m just filling my days with distractions while I wait for the black cloud to eventually begin to lift, and for me to feel able to get on with the next chapter of my life. Occasionally I get a glimpse of hope that I have ‘moved forward’ and that it’s getting easier, but those moments always seem to be followed by an ever more intensified sense of increasing desolation and sadness.
Crying in front of other people is something I’ve never been comfortable with, so it’s very hard to cope with the uncontrollable tears that seem to come so readily these days. I have yet to get through a church service without spending most of it crying, and conversations with friends usually trigger the same response. When I’m alone I am often overwhelmed and totally exhausted by the constant stream of tears that I just can’t seem to control. Should I even try to do so? Is this a normal reaction?
Having suffered from clinical depression for many years it’s difficult to know how much of what I’m facing now is part of the normal grieving process and how much is an exacerbation of my ongoing depressive illness. I’m grateful for the counselling and the various therapies that I’ve undergone in the past because they have certainly given me techniques that help me cope with these intense feelings. I’ve been advised to accept some form of bereavement counselling, so I am looking into various ways of accessing this. The closeness that Suzie and I shared, both emotionally and on a practical level, must surely add to the sense of emptiness and the lack of purpose or direction that engulfs me now. Every single aspect of my life was integral with Suzie, indeed, motivated and driven by her, so I shouldn’t really be surprised that I don’t know who I am or how to move forward without her. Sometimes I look at her photo and I just can’t take in the fact that she has gone and she’s not going to be coming back.
But, however much I wish it weren’t true, I know that it is, and I know that I have to continue to try to live some kind of meaningful life without her. I am certain that God allowed things to happen in the way they did in order to accomplish His plan and purpose, and that I am seeing only a small part of His perfect picture. I constantly draw on His grace and strength to get me through each new day, and I trust in His unfailing love as He gradually allows the future to unfold. I thank Him for the precious love of my family and true friends, and for the understanding and support that they offer. I continue to make it my conscious decision to look beyond the pain and try to focus on all the good things that I know are still there.
One day the tears will begin to lessen and I will be able to embrace the beauty of the wonderful life Suzie and I shared. One day my thoughts and memories of her will be able to stretch beyond her illness and her final weeks and days. One day a warm glow of love will replace the ache in my heart when I think of her. One day……..
Here is my reply to her.
Many of your words I think or have said out loud. It has been five weeks since Al, my brother passed away. My heart is still broken beyond repair, at this point, but I know in time it will heal. Most people do heal from these tragedies. I, also have heard the same comments as you. Be glad he is no longer suffering. I also have been made to feel that I should be farther along in my healing. Yet, others say don’t push it, just take my time.
I have decided to take the last answer and take it as it comes. I made a video of Al a few days before he died. On it is him and his voice. He is begging God to take him home. He says it over and over for the entire 30 seconds. I have never shared it. It is so private and precious to me. I find it on my phone and play it over and over until I start crying. Sometimes the crying helps me feel better and I will intentionally play it to release my own selfish pain of losing him to MSA.
I also will go into his bedroom. I did paint the bedroom an entirely different color so that I could walk through the door. I wiped down all of his cars and coca cola and placed it so gently back on the shelves. I will purposely go into his room and stand in the same exact spot I did for so many months just staring at the now invisible bed.
Even writing this, my heart is being squeezed to death, but I must write. It helps others, it helps me.
In a week I will be teaching through Skype a Hospice in Peoria, Illinois about MSA. They want to learn, and I want to teach. I have been trying so hard to get me out there. I want to share my story of my brother. I don’t want others to suffer like I did. I don’t want others to be afraid of quick and ugly changes. The only thing I pray for on that class is that I don’t cry. I don’t want to deter any of my words in exchange for their pity.
All of us have lived a life through MSA that many will never understand. My own family really didn’t get it. MSA is so wicked, how can we begin to explain what they never were around to see?
So to help myself get through this terrible journey, I talk to anyone who will listen. I stand in Al’s room and cry and look at the invisible bed. I got myself a pup for company. I cry, I hurt, I go out when I can and I stay home for as long as I need to. It is me healing, at my own pace. I will get better, I know I will. How long it will take, I don’t know. Will I heal completely, only time will tell. The void in my heart will always remain open but will close some. God bless you my friend. I am always here for you and anyone who needs me. If you know of someone who wants to learn, remember me. I am not only a sister and a mourner, because of Al, I am now a teacher of MSA.
I will be passing your post onto my blog so others know, it hurts to heal. Hugs, Terry