I’ve been lucky so far, in that I haven’t had a lot of experience with grief in my life, but it’s something we all will deal with sooner or later. It can be easy to let yourself fall apart and succumb to the overwhelming sadness of losing someone. Last week, I lost my grandmother, and while nobody can ever be truly ready for a loss like that, I felt ill-equipped to deal with it.
There I was, already overwhelmed with a mental illness that has caused me to feel isolated and alone for many years. Now I had to confront my perceived loneliness, along with the fact that I am now, truly, a little more alone in the world. It has caused me to feel even more isolated, and I’ve spent that time either engrossed in work or ruminating on my feelings. Both are healthy in certain amounts, but could easily become a problem. Especially if I continue to do them to the exclusion of other things, like spending time with friends (either virtually, or in real life).
It feels like a miracle that I can still function. My therapist tells me I’m being strong, that I’m persevering through this. But I don’t feel like I am, I feel like I’m just hanging on, trying desperately to keep my head above the water. I’ve felt that way for so long, maybe I’ve just become used to it.
If I try to reframe and question my self-doubt, I’d say my struggles with anxiety and depression have prepared me for something like this in a weird way. It doesn’t have to be called strength, maybe it’s a kind of experience. Maybe it’s made the acceptance of my feelings, specifically grief and sadness, that much easier.
I am sad. Devastated. Anybody would be after suffering the loss of a loved one. But I accept that I feel this way, I accept that I will continue to feel this way for as long as it takes for me to heal. And even after I heal, I will still be faced with these feelings from time to time, and that’s ok. This will certainly not be the last time I will face this struggle, but I have to believe I will weather those storms like I am this one.
I’m trying to refocus my thoughts on the positives, the good memories while accepting that I’m still allowed to mourn. I try to remind myself that I’m lucky to have had my grandmother in my life for 31 years, without feeling like I’m being selfish if I’m sad she’s gone. It’s not an easy balance to strike, but I feel like spending so much of my adult life learning to accept my feelings has made that easier.
My anxiety is higher than it’s been in a while, my depression is more overwhelming. But I have to accept that too because I know this isn’t normal. This is a moment, a sad, painful moment, but still a moment. And moments pass. As I heal from the grief, I will begin to recalibrate, and I can begin to tackle my everyday struggles again. Until then though, I need to continue to make peace with the struggle and know that someday soon I can pick up the fight against my mental illness again.
I’m not sure I really know what I’m trying to say with this post. I thought I knew coming into it, but grief is such a complicated topic. I like to give actionable advice in these posts, but the truth is I don’t have any. I don’t think there are answers. I think dealing with grief is just a combination of resilience, allowing yourself to feel however you’re going to feel, and finding and accepting the support you need when you’re not able to do the other 2 things.