Feeling disconnected. It has been quite some time since my last posting and something nudge me to come this way today. I was preparing for this evenings support group meeting, looking for fresh material and an opening prayer or poem to welcome those who are returning or joining us for the first time, when a question caught my eye. Do you have feelings of being disconnected? If yes, from whom or what? (Taken from A Gathering of Angels by Victoria Leland, RN in collaboration with five grieving mothers). Followed by: What things can you do to help yourself (1) stay connected to your baby*, (2) feel okay about yourself during the time of disconnect with others, and (3) reconnect with others when you are ready? *For me I simply substituted the word baby with daughter/child, you can simply change it to your loved one to represent whomever has died in your life.
Do you feel disconnected? For so many of us who have suffered through the death of a loved one, regardless of our relationship with them, we do so feel totally separated from the world around us. For me the loss of a child, left me avoiding families that were still intact. After my dad died, I felt little in common with those who's father was still alive and after the death of my last surviving grandparent I felt like I could never be loved in the way that only they could love me. You get my drift. These are very real and very normal feelings to experience after the death of a loved one. We no longer feel whole, and seeing others who have what we so desperately long to have again leaves us feeling alone and isolated, totally disconnected from the world. Add to that the feelings of no longer being able to see, touch or hear our loved one in the physical realm, seems to further widen this disconnection. The whoms or whats are numerous and vary with the relationship we had with our loved ones, what they brought into our lives, and who we were when we were with them.
So how do we bridge this disconnect? Amazingly after almost 8 years after my daughter Rachel's death, I feel more connected to her now than I ever did before. She has become an integral part of my very being, and is never very far from my thoughts and daily routine. Her memory lives on in so many ways in my life, and her love of life is reflected so beautifully in the faces and actions of my grandchildren. And just when I feel lonely or saddened by a sudden memory or other trigger, I am gently reminded that she is near. For instance just yesterday morning as I reached for the handle of my car door I spied a penny lying on the ground, as I bent down to pick it up I silently whispered Good Morning Rachel. As I started the engine, I could not help but smile as a feeling of comfort and warmth flooded over me.
But this was not always the case for me. In the first few months and years, I felt totally alone, totally out of sync with the world and those around me. In time I learned to accept that this was normal and okay. By allowing myself to become disconnected from the day to day world around me, I gave myself the space I needed to heal, to accept and to recognize the beauty that had come into my life with the birth of my daughter. During this time, I allowed my self to question, to cry, to be angry, and to even allow myself bouts of self-pity. It was during this time of deep awareness that I came to fully understand who I was, what mattered most to me, and what choices only I could make. It was not always easy, I sometimes did not like the person staring back at me in the mirror, and there were times that retreating from the world seemed like the best option But I can honestly say, if I had not allowed my self that space to unplug myself from life, I would probably still be spinning out of control even now.
The beauty of accepting the 'disconnect' was that it gave me time to understand my grief, to get to know the person I was becoming, and to get acclimated to the new 'normal' in my life. To a life without my eldest daughter Rachel physically in it and to the possibilities that only Rachel's death could bring into my life. So when I was 'ready to reconnect' with the world, it was on my terms, with a new perspective on life, a renewed sense of purpose and a resolve to help others who were grieving too.
For those of you who are trying to be there for someone who is grieving the death of a loved one, the greatest gift you can give them is space. Be understanding and compassionate when they tell you that can't go to a party, or be with others. They may not be able to face the reminders of what is so sharply missing from their lives. In time they will come around, just let them know you are there for them and are willing to just sit, listen or simply hold their hand.
Grief is not easy, it takes time and is definitely hard work, and each and everyone of us grieves very differently. So embrace the disconnection, learn to forge new connections with your deceased loved ones, and reconnect on your terms and in your way. But most importantly, just know that you are not alone, ever, your loved one is always with you, for love is not governed by death and it finds it's way even through the murkiest darkness.
Blessings! and until we meet again.