dictionary.com defines grief as “keen mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss; sharp sorrow; painful regret.” But grief is so much more than that. It’s something that doesn’t go away, once you’re life has been touched by loss, grief washes back over you time and time again throughout your life, like the tide washing in and out.
As I prepare for this next phase in my life, as a bride and then a wife, I have definitely hit a time of High Tide in my journey with grief. It took me a while to be able to define the emotion this time around, mainly because of all of the distractions in my life right now. I first noticed that I just didn’t feel like I was cutting it, at work or at home. I was overly critical of myself and felt that I was a disappointment to others. I found myself overcome with tears that I couldn’t explain. I was getting angry and frustrated way more than usual.
While making paper flower bouquets with a bunch of my bridesmaids, a song came on that reminded one of my nieces of her Grandpa’s memorial at the funeral home (her grandfather on the other side, she never really got to know my dad). I got frustrated with her for being upset by the song. I told her that people live and die, and death is a part of life and that after seven years she had to let go of the songs and let other memories over write the grief of the song. It bothered me that I don’t remember a single song from my dad’s memorial or funeral or Vavo’s or those of any of the other people I have lost. I have been to at least eight funerals/memorials that I can remember, and there were two that I had to miss, but the loss of those individuals still shocks and saddens me from time to time.
This isn’t a sob story, I’m not looking for sympathy, and I don’t want you to feel sorry for me. This is my life, and there is so much joy in it as well… So many people that I am thankful for every day! My amazing family, and my new family – David‘s family, as well as friends that blow my mind with how amazing they are, not to mention my wonderful David. There is so much good.
Sending out the invitations to my wedding and knowing that Vavo and Vava won’t be getting one, nor my own grandmother, nor my brother’s father in law or my sister’s, nor my niece who passed away after only fourteen hours on this earth, nor my own father… and knowing that my mom probably won’t be dancing the night away does cast a shadow that I can’t ignore. It’s hard to feel like this. It’s hard to reconcile the joy of marrying my best friend, and having our first house with the sadness of loss.
I always knew that my dad wouldn’t be walking me down the aisle. He became sick when I was 8, diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when I was 10, and passed away when I was 18. I decided years and years ago that I’d have my brother (who is also my godfather) walk me down the aisle and do my “father-daughter” dance. I couldn’t ask for better. I am so thankful for both of my brothers and how they stepped up to take on paternal roles with me. As our wedding day approaches I feel the void of my dad’s absence though.
My dear friend and Maid of Honour asked me if I wanted a memorial table at the reception in honour of all the people who can’t be there to celebrate with us and I said no. It’s not because I’m being heartless, or that I think it’d be a bummer to have a table with pictures of dead relatives, it’s because I already feel their absence so substantially, and their is enough weight on my heart that I don’t need another reminder, I think it would just hurt more at a time when I am supposed to be happy.
It’s okay to be happy, and it’s okay to feel the loss of grief. I know that time changes grief, it stops being that inescapable pain inside and the feeling of unstoppable tears and turns into someting different. A whisper in the back of your mind. A new normal “without”. An ebb and flow of the tide.