Building a new muscle…

It hurts to live after someone has died.

I read this recently, and I can relate, as many people can.

How do people cope? I have read a lot of books this summer — some on grief, some mindless fiction reads. I realized at some point, it was all I could do. I was consuming books. I wanted to learn more, to understand the process of grief,  and I needed the fantasy of fiction at times to distract me from my grief.

Of course, being me, I was curious about why I wanted to read so much. Here is what I came up with: I think it allowed me to lose myself in something that wasn’t my life, and when i finished, I would proudly announce to my family, “I read another book!”  or  “My book is sooo good! Do you want to hear about it?”

It got to the point that  my family banned me from discussing my books. “Mom, you can only mention your book once a day.” I guess if that’s the worst thing, it’s not so bad.

I am not going to lie; the past 6 months for me have been beyond unbelievable. My oldest son recently described it as, “It’s impressive, Mom, and not in a good way.”

Grief is a hard companion. There is no book that can make it better. There are no rules or straight line.

I have felt pain in my heart that I have never felt before. Recently, I described it as the feeling of numbness. I am dispassionate and unmotivated — not how I would describe myself 6 months ago, but I am trying to surrender into it. To sit in the pain, let the waves come and go.

My grief is no different than what many people are feeling during the pandemic. I have listened to many people anguish over wishing the pandemic to be over, to get back to normal. I guess I am wondering what we are running from or getting back to. What makes us so uncomfortable that we need TO GET BACK to our classes, our routines? Are we trying to get back or get out? Are we trying to get away from the discomfort of what we are forced to do, to look inward?

It’s building a new muscle, this forced reflection, this building of resilience and perspective. I try to instill it in my girls, as they come home from their own versions of school, regaling me with their stories of masks and social distancing, remote learning, fear, anxiety, exhaustion, hunger, friendships.

It’s a new muscle for most of us: digging deep and seeing parts of ourselves that we may not like. It’s necessary and valuable, though — a learning opportunity. What can we learn about ourselves?


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