Yesterday I wrote about becoming the butterfly, allowing ourselves to transform, but it is definitely not an easy process, as I am very much aware of.
My family and I just came back from one of the local farms, we picked apples, took a hayride, and chose a pumpkin or two to bring home. We were a good size group, about 30 of us, ranging in age from 8 1/2 months to 70 something years old, and spanning 4 generations in one family alone. It was so wonderful to see all the happy faces around me as I took photos. To see the wonderment in the young faces and a peaceful look of wisdom as the older relatives looked on, a permanent smile on their faces, was something not to be missed.
While we were picking apples a butterfly flitted by, and immediately I thought of my daughter. My family and I believe that Rachel flutters by whenever she wants to join us. I'm not delusional, it is just that butterflies also represent in many cultures, rebirth, so when we see one, we all feel it is a reminder that our loved one is always near, always with us. It also serves as a subtle reminder of what is missing in my life, although it is much easier now than it was just a year or two ago.
Just the same, gatherings like today's can be difficult. I may not cry as easily and I keep what I am feeling and thinking inside, but I still notice what is missing.
For so many of you who may have lost a loved one, a friend, or anyone that meant something to you, being around others can be very difficult. Especially if people are having a good time, and enjoying each others company. It may seem unfair, as if no one has the right to be happy, because you are in so much pain. There are days when someone tells me that they just spent the day with their children, and it was good to have them all together. I am happy for them, but I feel a tight squeeze on my heart knowing that I will never be able to have my 3 children together again, at least not in this lifetime.
It takes time before you begin to feel comfortable around the happiness of others. I still have times when I have to walk away from things, leave the crowd to get a breath of fresh air. After regrouping and getting a grip on my emotions, I rejoin whatever is happening. I have had times when it took some effort to really get myself together. I shared in an earlier post that at my niece's wedding the father-daughter dance, even four years later, still requires that I leave the function hall. Hopefully this will eventually cease to cause so much pain, but for now I still know that I need to step out.
For some of you, there will be certain things that will trigger a reaction, a memory and even an ache, and it may take years before you will no longer need to walk away. But in time, I am told these things will be easier to deal with, will evoke less pain, and will not serve as a strong reminder of what can not be. I now do a lot more than I did just a year ago, I have less triggers that set me off in public, but I still have my late night cries, which allow me to release everything that I have kept pent up all day. For example, as I type this I feel the heaviness and sadness of knowing that I could not share this day with my daughter Rachel. It was a day when her nephew, got to pick his very first pumpkin, take his very first hayride and eat some apple from his very first apple picking adventure. My grandson didn't have is Auntie Rachel there to see him doing all this and yes I noticed, yes I felt it, and yes I missed Rachel not being there.
Even with all this heaviness, I am able to smile, to laugh, take loads of pictures and truly enjoy the company of others, knowing that when I am alone, I can cry, I can miss and I can long for my daughter. You to will find ways to live, to be able to join in the fun, and afterwards allow yourself to release your emotions.
We are not all the same, and maybe you are still not ready to do anything with others, or be around those who are having a good time. That is okay, we do not all travel this road at the same time, and we all travel at the speed that is best for us. You know what you can handle, only you know how you feel, so take it one day at a time.
A friend of mine lost her son and was able to return to work shortly after he died. I on the other hand was home a year before I could return to work. Yet another mother, whose daughter died, a few weeks before Rachel, is still home unable to work or do much of anything. All three of us lost our children unexpectedly, and we each responded differently to this loss. None of us knows how the death of a loved one will effect us, and we definitely don't know how we will respond. Even if we have lost more than one relative or loved one, our reaction to each loss was totally different. Our relationship with the individual will have a major impact on how we grieve. I have lost my father, grandparents, etc., but none prepared me for the death of my daughter. Each loss is as unique as the person, and each one leaves their footprints on our hearts.
When you find yourself surrounded by others who are having a good time, let yourself remember what you shared with your loved one. Remember the good times, let the bad times dissolve away, and put a smile on your face as you think of the things you were able to do together. Know that some days will be harder than others, but eventually even these will begin to decrease.
If you need a good cry, let yourself cry. If you need to scream, let yourself scream. Today I smiled and laughed all day, tonight I cry my tears. Tomorrow will bring the sun, and I will face it as I do every day, and I will be grateful for what I have, blessed that I had the gift of Rachel in my life; that I still have the gift of Rachel.
Blessings! and until we meet again.