Grief in the C Line

Hi Brooke,

My mother died in November. I posted a couple of times during her final illness. The lessons I have learned in SCS have been invaluable in dealing with the inevitable interpersonal disagreements that come up surrounding illness and loss.

Although I’m no stranger to grief, joining the “motherless daughters” club has been really difficult for me. Having lost my dad a few years ago to cancer, and having been widowed at more than 20 years ago at age 29, having pregnancies, beloved pets and relationships, I arrogantly thought that I had a pretty good handle on grief and grieving. Boy, was I wrong.

I’ve been working through my emotions and have been putting “grief” in the F line for 2 months. I’ve been trying to think my way “around” it – around grief. It hasn’t been very effective for me. I came across a post on social media this week that mentioned carrying joy and grief together.

When I saw the post, it dawned on me that sometimes grief, which is a process, is a C – like a toothache or a cut on my finger. There’s no mental shortcut that will make it heal faster. When I sit with the pain of a toothache, my F line is “I can get some relief when I see the dentist tomorrow,” and the F changes from agony to relief.

My “model” for the past 2 months has involved some variation of
C – Mom died
T – She’s no longer in pain
F – Relief
A – go do something else
R – the house gets cleaned, the dog gets fed, [lather, rinse, repeat]

I know we should try to keep just one thought in the T line, but grief is a C that co-exists with the rest of my world right now. It seems the Model right now looks like this –
C – I am grieving the loss of my mother and the sun is setting (or
T – grief is natural – wouldn’t Mom have loved the sunset tonight?
F – sadness that she isn’t here to share it AND joy that she taught me to appreciate beauty
A – I let the grief wash through me – the hormones that cause the feelings and bring the tears go away in minutes if I don’t resist them
R – I watch the sunset, (or read the story, or fold the sheets) with tears on my cheeks and joy in my heart all at the same time.

If grief were a physical injury, I would simply be allowing it to heal – taking care of it, and taking care not to pull off the scab and make it bleed, but not ignoring the fact that I am injured. When I live life with an injured finger, sometimes I accidentally whack it and it hurts, but I don’t allow it to stop me from going for a run or playing with the dogs. Perhaps this kind of an emotional injury needs to be treated the same way? Recognize grief is there, don’t go out of my way to rip the scab off, and allow the wound to heal while living life – knowing that sometimes it’s going to hurt even if I exercise caution.

In my past, every major loss I have experienced as an adult occurred while I was taking anti-depressant or anti-anxiety medications. I had been medication free for about a year when this death, dying and bereavement process started in August, and I didn’t want to re-start medication. My models may not be completely “clean,” but they are real, they help, and I thank you for the tools you have taught me.