I had an appointment with my grief therapist the other day. I haven’t seen her in a couple weeks because of Kenley’s leg and going back to work. She started asking me questions and I unloaded. I didn’t realize I had so many things to say. I told her I couldn’t understand why so many people think everything is okay now. They don’t mention Blake; they tell me their stories, full of complaints about work, their kids, etc, ask me for favors. They ask me to do things I am not even close to ready to do. I told her, “Everyone just thinks I’m fine, I’m okay now. My daughter just died.” Her response really struck me: “You look fine, though.”
Her response helped me realize, on the outside, I look like my typical self. I’m not what most people (I used to have this belief, too) think of when they imagine a “grieving mother”. I don’t look like I’m just barely functioning, that I’m just trying to survive. In talking with her, I recognized, if I looked how I felt and went around telling people the thoughts that actually go through my mind, I would feel even more isolated than I already do. Grief makes people uncomfortable. If I looked like the “model” of grief more people would ignore me. (I do understand it’s difficult to know how to act or what to say to someone like me. I hope to give everyone some (possibly) helpful ideas in a future post. Please bear with me.)
I hate that after all that has happened, it all circles back to being my responsibility. I have to be the one to tell someone “no, I can’t help you” or leave the room because hearing too much laughing makes me want to cry. I cannot talk about the holidays. I cannot hear the word “Christmas” without completely losing it. There are so many things that make me feel like a crazy person and others just can’t understand.
I have to continue to let my vulnerability show through because I really can’t take it.
Here’s the thing: No one knows what’s going on inside my head. I can’t expect them to. People aren’t mind readers and they don’t know. My job now- my only job- is to remember that I have to take care of myself, Jeff, Kenley and Blake. I have to do that in a world that is functioning as normal, even though every single moment of every single day is a struggle for me.