I don’t know if this phenomenon is typical or atypical. In my grief journey, I try to accept what comes. I believe that God works with our psyche to chart the course of healing we need. So, typical or not – I endeavor to embrace whatever path presents itself to me.
A Golden Year
I hold the year stretching from Christmas 2018 (my favorite family photo below) to Christmas Eve 2019 as a golden year. Life was good; really good. I had dug into some dark corners of my past and pulled the pain into the light. That difficult work left me freer than I had been for a very long time. I had found peace and was learning to live in its halo.
2019 was a year filled with wonderful times. Our whole family seemed to hit our stride. It wasn’t perfect but we were together, we were settled, and a sense of bliss was prevalent in our lives. We were enjoying our home and our jobs. Our boys were bursting into their own lives. The silky black ribbon adding the crowning touch was our puppy, Espresso.
A Crashing Halt
The descent from the highest highs to the lowest lows was a dizzyingly rapid ride. Less than a month passed between picking my eldest son up from college to his passing from a pulmonary embolism. The day I picked him up was filled with joy and laughter. We enjoyed favorite meals, went to a movie, and did last minute Christmas shopping. We created many cherished memories that day.
A Year on Rewind
Continuing without one of my boys, my life is changed forever. I choose to live in joy, but I can’t fathom – not yet – a return to the bliss of 2019. As I march onward, I find that my mind is frequently tethered to a parallel replay of that year.
All manner of things, large and small will trigger what are usually blissful memories. “This is what was happening then” is a common mantra. The effect intensifies and multiplies during the months of December and January. It seems as though I can chronicle that final month moment by moment. This joke, that text, a request here, a smile there, and hugs echo throughout.
Is This a Typical Experience?
I have never spoken to anyone else who has related a grief experience like this. I would really love to hear about anyone else who has had a similar experience. It can be very reassuring to know you are not alone. In grief, I think it is particularly comforting to know that others understand and know what you are talking about.
Accepting What Comes
Last evening as I finished playing a video game I always enjoyed playing with my eldest son, I found myself wrapped one of these echoes. The experience was so strong that I was laughing out loud, savoring the memory. Reality sliced through the thread of memory. My laughter twisted into a gasp, and I had to sit. I looked to the family photos scattered about the room and let the tears flow.
After a few moments I got up and rejoined my husband. A brush of my hand across his shoulders and his eyes lifted to mine. He saw the pain there and he understood. He squeezed my hand and I moved on to my next task. We have learned that pain comes to us at varied intervals – and it’s ok. If we need to talk, we do, but most times we just accept what the other is feeling and offer love. We hurt, we love and we move on.
Read more by Colleen Friesen: Riding the Ebb and Flow of Grief – Open to Hope.
Visit Colleen’s website: https://www.blazingtrail.net/