Over time, I have come to realize that self-awareness is very important in the grieving process. In the beginning, of course, it was all tears and weeping, and expectedly so. And then the week was over, the burial was over, the month of leave was over…and it was time to go back to work and to ‘life and living’.
In some safe quarters, such as home, it would be okay to cry and just mourn the loss of my baby. I’d see his photos and videos, and things around me would trigger deep feelings and emotions. There would be tides and waves of grief, they would come and go. A song would play and hit a soft spot. A comment would be made and my heart would be broken. And at home, it was okay.
It was also relatively okay with some family members and friends, and we could talk about Jason; especially with those who knew him. And there would be lovely conversations about him, sad conversations about the burial and general conversations about death and hardships in life. Even there, it was okay to be natural and just express myself.
But a time comes when some ‘significant’ amount of time has passed, and the topic becomes almost taboo. I still don’t know who decides what the significant amount of time is. And who decides that it passes. For me, I live with the loss and the memories every single day. It’s like a railway track, the good and bad come together, and we need to know how to live with them both.
So that’s where I have found self-awareness to be very key. Knowing ourselves and what triggers our pain and our reactions is very important, and it can save us many difficult moments, or accord us good ones as well.
For me, for example, I have quite a memory about the dates that were associated with Jason. When he was born, when he died, when we buried him and so on. I also remember fondly some of the things that surrounded his existence. I know that I am especially vulnerable when such dates or topics come around. I also know that there are people who generally don’t know how to handle grief very well, and can ask some very unwise questions. I also know the Christian variety that believes that salvation or faith in God should lead to instant healing from grief.
So what do I do? I am especially careful about who I interact with, and who I allow into conversation with me about Jason. For the general masses, I’ll say I’m fine. For closer friends, I’ll tell them as it is. Depending on the season and how I feel, I can plan to take my off-days around days when I know it would be especially difficult to work. And when I just need to be alone, I can plan for it too.
For those with comments beyond comprehension, bless their well-meaning hearts, I have to be brave and know how to answer them, and then walk away as fast and as far as possible. And for some, I have learnt to simply shut them out of that conversation for it does more harm than good, sometimes all harm and no good whatsoever.
That sounds pretty well said, and as though grief can be planned for. It can’t. There are random experiences that come about and one can’t help but to cry. Sometimes I get away from where people are and go to the restroom and cry. Sometimes it’s a crowd, and I just lower my head and cry. And I always have a friend I can text at any time and she’ll pray with me, from wherever she is. She’s awesome, and I love her.
So I always ensure that I have some pocket tissues or a few handkerchiefs. And minimal make-up. Nowadays, I mostly wear make-up for photo-shoots or events. On a daily basis, I keep it simple. Why? Because triggers come all the time, and the last thing on my mind is smudged up mascara. So I cry, I wipe my face, and life moves on.
Yes, self-awareness does call for quite some adjustments – who to spend time with, what to focus on, what books to read to help yourself; and even priorities on how to spend your time and resources. It’s not about image, it’s about making the most of the present moments, because at the end of the day, that’s all that really matters.