Wednesday, May 18, 2011

In All Honesty

We're coming close to five months. Five months.

A lot can happen in five months. And I'm learning, sadly, a lot cannot yet take place.

I'm learning so much in this journey - things I never expected to learn, in ways I never wanted to explore. But one lesson - on behalf of myself and anyone who has ever experienced great, wrenching loss - is how truly long the healing process takes.

Six months ago, I might have thought that five months after loss, a person might begin to see more sunshine, might be ready to handle more, might be ready to piece things back together.

In some ways, this is true.

I do see more sunshine.

I laugh more than I cry.

I don't sleep as much; if I slept on a newborn schedule in the early days without Robb, I'd say I'm nearing the preschool stage. I can handle more of the day, but I really need to rest every afternoon.

Every afternoon.

Sometimes, I can think more clearly, and I see glimpses of my professional brain.

I've finished one editing assignment in the last five months. (One. I used to do at least five a week.)

Some things are easier, by the grace of God and the blessing of medicine.

But some things are still hard. Harder than I would ever imagine.

I still can't fall asleep easily at night. My mind races with remembering.

I haven't been to the grocery store, except for a quick stop for bread and milk. The task of planning a menu, cutting coupons, making my list, venturing every aisle, and putting it all away at home... the very words on the page overwhelm me.

Depression is real. Fatigue is debilitating.

It's hard to find me in this mess, although sometimes I see surprising, encouraging snapshots of who I will become again someday.

I haven't cooked a meal in five months.

I can wake my children in the morning, get them dressed for the day, enjoy breakfast together. I can tuck my kids in bed, I can bathe them, and I can do bedtime stories. But I cannot yet handle a full day with them. I must be by myself - literally by myself - for much of the day, in order to have the endurance to offer them my best for the late afternoon and early evening.

I am learning how to pace my physical strength, how to play my chips carefully to make them last as long as possible.

But I'm also learning that emotional exhaustion is far more depleting, and it can zap my physical strength with lightning speed.

An hour with a friend? Even someone who is safe, whom I trust, whom I deeply enjoy? The task of engaging in conversation will take its toll for nearly two days.

It is a horrible contradiction to miss the ones I love and yet not have the strength to be with them, to long for a day alone with my sons and know that my body can't keep up.

I had no idea this is what it was like; I had no idea it takes this long.

I had no idea.

Some things are better; some things aren't yet. People assume it's time to put the pieces together. In gentle optimism and a glance at the calendar, some believe I should be ready for things I really just can't do yet. I really just can't.

In all honesty, this whole journey is still so hard, even five months later.

To anyone who has walked this journey before me, I tip my hat and lend my heart to you: your journey was harder than I ever imagined. There was no way I could know.

There is no timeline.


Angie said...

One step at a time, Tricia. One step at a time. You have made so much progress. Grief, anxiety, depression -- indeed, so debilitating. Healing will come -- IS coming -- just not in your timetable, or anyone else's.

You have been in my thoughts and prayers every day since I first heard the news through the Wenigs and your Mom. Thank you for your honesty in this heart-wrenching journey.

John said...

Hi Tricia,
I'm a paramedic myself, and have been on the other side of the coin you are on. I cannot and will not try to empathize, as nothing to me is as horrifying as the loss of my spouse or kids. And you are absolutely right... there is no timeline. God only knows, and He never tells. But He is with you. Prayers for better days, gentle understanding from others, and healing. Take Care.

Ally said...


When I started out on my grief journey, I had no idea that it would take so long or be so hard either. The good days will become better and more frequent and the hard days will become less hard. You and your boys are in my prayers daily.

Kristen said...

I read something the other day that said, "Grief is a measure of love lost." The greater and deeper your grief, the more love it attests to. And in my mind, five months is not nearly enough time to wrap around that deepness.

So many prayers coming your way, Tricia. God has you in his big hands.

Kristen said...

I read something the other day that said, "Grief is a measure of love lost." The deeper your love, the greater your sense of loss. In my mind, five months is not nearly enough time to cover over that deepness.

So many prayers are coming your way, Tricia. God has you in his big hands. Love, love, love.

Mrs. MK said...

So much truth here. And the thing is, the timeline can be so vague, so for each individual situtaions and person!

I am thankful for the good things that God has given you eyes to see. Thank you for the honesty, and know you are still in my prayers, daily!

Noel said...

Sweetie, I think you're doing great. I think recognizing what you can and can't do is HUGE. Don't hurry. Don't be intimidated by the calendar or by what other people think. You're on grief time. On YOUR grief time. It takes however long it takes. I avoided the grocery store for a long time, too. And I rarely cook a meal, it's too painful (my husband and I did it together). Just go when you're ready. No one's starving over there, so just take your time and be kind and gracious with yourself. You can do this, sweetheart.

Claire said...

Thank you for speaking truth into the journey. 31 years and I can still be in tears instantly.

Janet said...

Thank you for being so honest. When people go through terrible tragedy and loss, the rest of the world seems to think they should just get over it after a bit of time passes. Your honesty explains why it just can't happen that way. Healing takes time. A lot of time.

Even though being with friends saps your energy for days, I'd encourage you to keep doing it. It'll be worth the effort in the end.

Debby said...

Hi Tricia,
I am four months into my process. It is unbearably difficult at times. I see glimpses of myself, at times, too, but I will never be the same. I am not "recovered", and how can I ever be?
I think of you and pray for you because not only is it you, it's these young sons of yours. I think it is very wise you do what you need to for yourself and know your limits. I will keep us and many others I have met who are also in the midst of deep grief near and dear in my thoughts and prayers as we struggle through this.