My dad died two years ago today. I was in Mexico City and spent a week away, mostly on the Big Island for the funeral. (Check the archives for July and August 2006.)
I was thinking about his death and how different the grieving process was (is) compared to Jen. Every death that happens in your life is going to be different, there is no doubt. As with most deaths, his was somewhat of a surprise, but not entirely unexpected. He was 82 and had Alzheimers for seven or eight years by that point and he'd had heart issues. His death was kind of the "normal" circle of life kind of death -- your dad gets old and at some point dies. Doesn't make it less sad or painful, but as you get older, you know it's going to happen. And with my dad, he had been gone for a long time from my every day life and I had worked on letting him go so that when the time came, I was somewhat prepared.
Completely different from Jen's death which was out of order and shocking and too soon and crazy and wrong.
And as every death is different, everyone who is grieving experiences that death differently as well. My grief is different from my mom's and different from my brother in law's and different from my niece and nephew and different from my sister's father and her other brothers and sisters. (I'll do a family chart some day for you all.) I talked to my brother in law this week and it took me a little while afterward to realize that we are feeling much of the same pain, but also there is so much that is different, which is normal and makes sense. And we are all getting through it in our own ways.
Here's what I still know about grief: You get through it by going through it.
There are no shortcuts, dammit, and the more open you are to what you are feeling and experiencing, the more you can be honest about the pain and sadness and hurt, the more support you can get from people who understand, the more you read about grief and what is "normal", the more you will get through it. Doing and feeling all of that doesn't make the hurt go away any faster, it is just the gentlest way to move through the grief, in my humble experience so far. The grief is never going to go away, for either my dad or Jen. But the scar will fade over time, which can be really hard to believe when that wound is still gushing and needs a tourniquet.
Metaphors are so helpful.
Tomorrow will be three months since Jen died.