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Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I'm not ready, please have patience!

Patience is a virtue.  We have all heard this saying so many times.  We are often reminded and thanked for being patient when we have to wait in line.  When your child is learning to walk, to talk and to accomplish simple tasks, we wait patiently for all the firsts.  Yet how often do we allow ourselves to be patient with us.

Right after Rachel died, the last thing I wanted to hear was be patient, or have patience.  I wanted to scream when yet another person uttered those words.  I even told a friend that if patience would bring back my daughter, I would be the epitome of patience. 

But it is patience that we actually need. Not the patience necessarily to accept what happened, that will come in time.  But to be patient with ourselves.  Grieving is not an easy or quick process, it just doesn't turn on one day and turn off when we feel we are done.  That's not how it works. 

We have to give ourselves time, after all we had our loved one in our lives all this time, we patiently earned their love and in doing so gained so much.  So now we need to give ourselves the very gift we gave to our loved one.  

It takes time and energy to grieve, and there are no set time limits or time frames.  Grief is as unique as we are, and every single person goes through their own grief in their own way.  People try to understand grief, they may sympathize with us, maybe even let us cry on their shoulder, but unless you have experienced it, it is hard to explain let alone understand.  

Those of us who may be grieving often times feel pressured to get through it and over it quickly.  As I mentioned in an earlier posting, I was home for a year after Rachel's death, my husband on the other hand, went right back to work.  I knew there was no way I could function in the day to day routine of a job.  There were days where I was tired even before I got out of bed.  My husband on the other hand needed to keep busy.  Because my husband and I were at complete opposite ends of the spectrum, people tried to reason away that I should have been where my husband was at.  

Both my husband and I had suffered loss before, having both lost our fathers, but neither of us was ready for this type of grief.  This was a whole new ball game, and we were so out in left field.  Nothing seemed right, nothing made sense, we did not know where to even go, let alone begin.  It was a confusing time, and a time that definitely called for patience.  Patience with our emotions, feelings and pain, patience with each other and how we were coping, and patience with others around us, and most importantly, with ourselves.  

The most important thing that my husband and I learned was that unless someone had gone through what we were going through, we would listened to them, but took any advice they shared with us with a grain of salt. A few months after Rachel's death, my husband looked perplexed, he explained that someone had said they were confused, this individual could not understand why I was still home.  They reasoned that my husband and I had both lost a child and that our pain should be the same, after all wasn't a father's pain, the same as a mother's.  You were both Rachel's parents, therefore you should both be moving forward at the same pace.  I remember being quite upset (maybe angry is a better word), not only at my husband, but at this person for assuming anything, let alone judging me and my husband's pain, or measuring our reactions.  

Most books you read on grieving will tell you that is takes at least 3-5 years before we begin to recover from grief.  Most of the people I have spoken to who have lost a dear loved one, will tell you it took at least 3 years before that could truly say it didn't hurt as much.  In the booklet, 'How to Comfort the Grieving,' by Victor M. Parachin, the author enters a excerpt of a mother's diary in which she writes:

       'One night, about a thousand sunsets after Laurie's death, 
        I put my hands on my heart.  I'm surprised it's not raw and 
        bleeding anymore.  There is just a big scar.  I move my arms
        and legs and they don't feel like lead weights anymore...Now 
        I have a scar.  The bleeding is gone but not all the tears.'

The pain has begun to slowly subside, but it has taken a while.  It can take a lot longer than people expect, there are no set rules, no time table, no schedule to follow.  We need to give ourselves time, we need to be patient with ourselves, we need to understand that this is totally foreign to anything we know or experienced.  It will start to get better, we will start to live again, but we need to trust ourselves.  I returned to work exactly a year and a day after Rachel's death, not to my previous job, but to something entirely new and different.  It was on my time, it was when I felt ready to do so. 

For those of you who maybe helping someone who is grieving, don't try to give them deadlines, they can't and won't be met.  This will only cause frustration in not only the bereaved, but you as well.  It may be hard to just stand by and watch, but it is what they need most.

For you, who are grieving, give yourself and others the gift of patience, allowing yourself to go through the stages of grief, at your own pace on your own time.  Your patience will be rewarded, you will live, laugh and love and will learn to dance again, (even if you have never danced before).  You will go beyond the grief, to the beautiful memories, and that is something no one can take away from you.  

"Love never ends." 

Blessings! and until we meet again.

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