I think we all want the process of grief, either from a divorce or from a death, to follow a sort of pattern, a recognizable schedule, a decipherable calendar.
I keep learning that this is not the case.
I’ll be buzzing along, working away, doing just fine and then out of nowhere a feeling of sadness envelops me. Who knows that brings it on? It’s often hard to say. It’s not so much a feeling of sadness over the loss of my marriage any longer. It’s a loneliness that falls some evenings around dusk, when I am sitting alone in my house.
I miss my kids. I miss the life that surrounded them and made this home an interesting place to be. I miss being an active mom. I miss another human heart beating in the house.
Even though I am rich beyond belief with the support of friends, I sometimes feel isolated when night is coming and I walk across the floors of my house, turning off lights, looking into empty rooms.
Those moments of sadness feel like a dip in the timeline, a sharp drop-off of the reliable graph on the neat grid, a U-turn on the road to normalcy.
Apparently, these moments are a natural part of healing, or so all the books say, but when I am in the middle of them, it feels like failure and the fact that I am surprised by the intensity of the emotion just adds to that feeling.
Tears come and even though I know I can call friends, I don’t because I am embarrassed.
I want to be as strong as they think I am. I give them no reason to call and check on me. Some may think if they do, or if they bring up the divorce, it will depress me or I may think they lack faith in me.
I keep reminding myself that though these feelings of loneliness still come, they do so more and more infrequently and with less intensity. I sometimes underestimate the progress I have made. And to be honest, this brand of loneliness is preferable to kind I felt in the last weeks of my marriage. Having another person in the house doesn’t mean a thing when that person is isolated and withdrawn. In fact, that kind loneliness is even more devastating and confusing.
Through this experience, I realize I have been guilty of rushing the grieving process for others in the past. I have not made the calls I should have made, have not checked in on people as much as I should have. I have wanted so much to believe that “everything is fine!” and that my friends have recovered quickly and without scars.
Now I know.
This mess of a procedure called healing in no way follows a linear pattern. It has its own path, and its own timing and its own moments of sorrow which follow no rules at all.
Above all, I am grateful for what this experience has taught me.
In the future, I will call people who are going the same sort of experience even though time has passed, even though they seem fine. With my close friends, I know it’s OK to bring up a sad event from time to time, to open the door to conversation and invite them to enter if they need to.
I also have to learn to accept my own dips into sadness and not see them as setbacks, but just a part of the ride that I need to go on at this time in my life.
After all, those dips make it possible to gain momentum so I can climb the next hill and, as always, I am eager to see what’s on the other side.