“I feel so lost.”
How many times have we felt that way? How many times have we heard that from other grievers? How many times have we just wanted to pull on a t-shirt that says it, so we just don’t have to explain anymore why we’re operating in such a daze?
We all go through these periods of feeling lost. Like we’re floating out there in the world with nothing to anchor us. We make the best effort we can to find that connection–the internet, support groups, counseling–something, anything to make us feel like we’re still part of the world.
For some of us, these periods last longer than for others. It’s discouraging and we feel, when we see others who share a similar experience supposedly “getting on with it,” that we’re failing in some way. That we’re not living up to our grieving potential. That we’ll never get that promotion from “new widow” to “widow once removed.”
But I have a different idea.
When we lose someone, our perspective changes. In a big way. The little things become just that — little (that is, until a little thing comes along and completely runs us off the road. That’s always fun). Our connection with the world and the people around us does a complete 180. Spiritually (not necessarily religiously), our connection deepens. We seek out those who feel the same awakening because that is who we suddenly feel a connection to.
It’s baffling to many of us that who we find comfort in are not those people who have known us all of our lives, but complete strangers. When we see someone in pain, we can’t look at it in the same, detached way we could before. Because their pain was once our pain. And we feel it right to the core.
It’s frightening, this opening of the spirit. It leaves us vulnerable and insecure. And when we used to feel that way–scared and exposed–who did we turn to?
You guessed it. The person who’s not here anymore. Talk about your double-whammy.
Sometimes I think that the people who are having the hardest time are sometimes doing the most soul-searching. We all feel loss very deeply, but I wonder if those people who can’t figure out what to do with certain areas of their lives–whether it’s professionally, romantically, or just what to wear in the morning — are actually taking the time to really figure themselves out. They’re not jumping into anything. Because jumping would imply that you have to land somewhere. And they’re just not ready to do that yet, damn it.
The problem is everyone else around you is saying that you should be ready (mainly because the fact that you are still going through the grieving process makes them feel uncomfortable–it has nothing to do with you). They think you need to stop floating and join the real world once again. And it’s almost harder when you reach out to people who have shared a similar loss who seem to be “getting on with it” because in the back of your mind you think that you’re just not doing this right.
Sometimes I wonder if we are holding on so tightly to who we were, what we had, and what could have been–we focus all of our energy on that and let that take up so much space in our hearts that we don’t have room for the new person who’s waiting in the wings. It’s not denial–or if it is, it’s the sneakiest form. We know what’s happened. We are fully aware of what we have lost. What we don’t know is what happens next. And that’s when we start floating.
I feel like I’m making this sound more magical than it really is. This “evolution of spirit” doesn’t seem like it should come in the form of a ripped bathrobe and a bag of Oreos. When we wake up in the morning and feel like our entire body is made of lead, we don’t think, “Wow. I feel like crap this morning. I must really be doing some soul-searching.”
For me, I jumped into everything right after my husband died. It didn’t occur to me that I needed to figure out who I was, who I had evolved into, now that I was on my own. I wanted to get on with my life immediately.
What I failed to recognize was that my life was not the same anymore. That it was impossible to jump right back into my old life because my old life had taken a permanent vacation. The rules that I had followed before didn’t apply. This was a new game and in order to play it, I had to change. And change takes time.
And that’s really when I began to hurt.
I’ll never forget it. I was going about 100 miles an hour for 6 months after my husband died and then suddenly, I started to cry. And cry. And cry. I didn’t want to do anything. All of the decisions I had been so desperate to make a few months ago seemed as trivial as they were impossible. When I told my sister that I couldn’t figure out what in the hell was wrong with me she replied, “You’ve been moving too fast. And now you’re being forced to sit down and deal with what has happened.”
(Enter floating sensation and detachment.)
I guess my point is when you’re feeling that lost feeling, try to look at it in a different way: That your damaged spirit is actually trying to take care of you while you figure out who you are.
For some people, this takes longer than others. For some, we’ll float back and forth between who we think we “should be” and who we are actually evolving into. Because sometimes that’s two different people.
And just remember: the reason we feel lost is because we’re hoping to be found.
Catherine Tidd 2010