Grief Comes in Many Forms
Disclaimer: I originally shared this post on my Facebook profile about raising my twin preschool-age grandsons for the past year and grieving the life that I lost in the process.
I’m about to get really real and really raw here people.
Because I think it’s time.
It’s time for me to come out of my shell more. To tell my story in the hopes that it helps someone else who is hurting.
It’s time for me to throw off the last vestiges of fear and cross the threshold of my comfort zone for good.
It’s time that we all stop thinking everyone else’s lives are without problems or that what we see and hear on social media is always this rosy, perfect life.
Because life is perfectly imperfect.
And there is a reason for that. It’s how we grow, how we change, how we evolve into something better — or worse depending on what direction you choose to take or how you take care of yourself.
We are like seeds planted in a dark place. Under certain conditions (what we think, say and do) we either grow into something amazing and beautiful and valuable, or we wither and die.
These two different photos of me are the face of grief. MY grief.
Grief looks different for everyone but this is what mine looks like.
(And yes, that’s also the look of motherhood on the left — unbrushed hair and last night’s makeup smeared everywhere because it was 7:30 in the morning and I was too damn tired to take off my makeup the night before just to run the kids to school.)
Grief is a huge catalyst for growth — or death.
Whichever it is, only we can decide that for ourselves.
Today, I am in such emotional pain, full of so much grief, that I honestly can barely stand myself.
I bawled my eyes out before leaving the house, bawled my eyes out while dropping off the boys, and really bawled my eyes out on the way home.
Yes, the boys saw and heard Mimi crying and asked repeatedly what was wrong and “why was I crying”?
And all I could tell them was Mimi’s heart hurt.
I didn’t want them to see me like this, I never do, but it’s a teachable moment.
So even through my pain and tears, I told them grownups cry too.
We feel sad sometimes and that’s okay. Crying it out helps.
(And hugs and kisses from them help too, which they gave me plenty of before getting out of the car.)
After dropping them off, the tears really flowed because I’d held in as much as possible for them.
And, oh my, did it flow.
Like, holding my chest because my heart hurt so much from this emotional pain — that kind of crying.
You’re probably wondering — who died? What the heck is going on? What are you grieving?
No one physically died but there was a death. A death I’ve wrestled with for a year now.
The death of the life I had, the life I was planning, the life I will never have.
A death I thought I’d come to terms with but apparently, I haven’t.
Only those of us who have truly lost someone can understand that grief knows NO BOUNDS.
Time does NOT heal all wounds.
The memory of the grief will fade for a while and then WHAM there it is again — in the most unexpected ways and in the most unexpected places — days, weeks, months, even years later.
Because grief isn’t OVERCOME.
It isn’t something that just goes away or is worked through completely. At least not in my experience.
It can only be MANAGED.
And I have lost someone to a physical death 5 years ago — my dad — so I know there’s no comparison between that and what I’m going through.
There’s no way there could BE a comparison because death and grief also come in MANY forms of loss.
Loss of a marriage.
Loss of a lifelong friendship.
Loss of a career.
Loss of a way of life.
Loss of a relationship with your adult child.
Many, many forms of grief and death and loss.
In my case, the loss wasn’t just one thing. It was many things.
All at once. Overnight.
It was the loss of my freedom, my career, my business, and certain aspects of my marriage, friendships, and relationships with my other grandchildren.
So this emotional pain I’m in tends to rear its ugly head once a month for about a week.
One hellacious week (aka PMS).
Maybe it’s more often and I’m not aware of it but that’s when I really notice it.
I’m feeling myself slipping back into a state of mind I was in many years ago, back into depression, resentment, and anger.
Taking it out on people around me. Holding it all in until I EXPLODE.
But what this is teaching me is that it isn’t just PMS. Because I have these feelings a lot, nearly every day.
I just handle them better when I’m less emotionally vulnerable.
Most people who know me and are reading this would never guess that I am struggling with these feelings.
There are so many things that I want right now, things that were taken from me that I can’t have back, that it literally chokes me with frustration.
— I want my fucking freedom back (but obviously not in a way that means I lose my husband and the boys and I’m alone).
— I want to enjoy my grandsons, not RAISE KIDS AGAIN.
— I want to enjoy my granddaughters, alone, without being exhausted already from lack of sleep and resenting my life.
— I want to FEEL GOOD again, even though I’m eating as nutritionally sound as I can, spending more time on self-care and releasing myself from a busy to do list and calendar.
— I want to LET GO of resentment and anger and make more space for acceptance of my life NOW.
Because here’s the reality that people often don’t get when they find out we’re grandparents raising our grandchildren.
We get remarks like, “Oh it must be nice to have so much time with your grandchildren.”
Well, actually, no. No, it isn’t. Not always.
We don’t have the luxury of sending them back to their parents after a few hours or a weekend stay.
We don’t get to “spoil” them and do fun grandparent/grandkid stuff.
We don’t get alone time with our other grandchildren because we’re so fucking exhausted from raising the boys that any chance we get without them we’re either sleeping or vegged out on the couch watching TV shows that don’t have annoying songs that end up stuck in your head in an endless loop.
Because we have to be the PARENTS and parenting in a grandfamily is TOTALLY different than regular parenting.
It means discipline and power struggles and trying to get them to listen and get dressed, and brush their teeth, and get along, and do well in school, and getting frustrated with them, with yourself, with your lack of energy or funds, and all of those things that sound like regular parenting struggles but it’s not because we’re 20-30 years older and didn’t want this for our life after already raising our kids.
It’s spending our hard-earned money on their necessities instead of trips and presents and all the fun things grandparents usually get to do.
We’ve been robbed of that.
Our other grandchildren have been robbed of that too.
And we’ve been robbed of having the freedom as a couple to just travel somewhere or have dinner with friends, or heck, with EACH OTHER.
But being thrust back into the role of parenting small children, not having much free time for myself, having to budget and plan my already stretched finances, time and energy — it just sucks sometimes.
It really SUCKSSSSSS.
And what’s interesting is it’s making me face a part of myself I thought I’d dealt with years ago.
It’s making me lean on my faith so much more now than I ever have in my entire life.
Years ago, when my kids were tween/teens I started having issues with anger, resentment, depression, and rage. For nearly six years I was a monster to live with.
It affected every aspect of my life and the people I love. It wasn’t until I started having suicidal thoughts that I sought help.
Turns out, it was a combination of hormonal imbalances and nutritional deficiencies.
I was diagnosed with PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder — think PMS on steroids) and PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome).
A hormonal double whammy. Yayyyyyyyy.
With the help of a low dose anti-depressant, a regimen of vitamins and minerals and some dietary changes I felt 90% better within a week.
Fast forward to now and I’m right back in that frame of mind (minus the suicidal thoughts).
Instead of waiting six years, it’s been one year and I finally had to admit to myself recently that I needed help.
So I’ve seen the doctor to have hormonal and nutritional levels checked and I’m back on a low-dose antidepressant.
And I know from the many years of spiritual and inner work I’ve done with myself, and the life coaching I do with my clients, that thinking/saying/writing what I “want” or “hope” or “wish” for just creates more wanting, hoping and wishing.
It’s not constructive.
It creates a life I don’t want, not a life I DO want.
It keeps me stuck in an endless cycle of wants, hopes, and wishes.
So, after I got home this morning I immediately sat down and wrote in my journal what I’m sharing with you now.
And after bleeding my heart onto the paper I did what I advise my clients to do — focus on the positives. (I basically had to life coach myself LOL)
Because honestly, the positives always far outweigh the negatives.
Think, say and do from a place of positive creation and your life will be more positive.
It’s really simple, but we overcomplicate things.
What does positive creation look like? It’s known as the Law of Attraction.
Everything is energy, including our thoughts.
Our thoughts (energy) are sent out and the Universe (God, Creator) answers.
In other words, we “attract” what we think. (In biblical terms, ask and you will receive. 😉)
When you say or think I AM [fill in the blank], the Universe only knows to deliver what comes after those two words.
If you say I AM angry, resentful, sad, mad, glad, whatever, that’s what you’ll get. Pretty simple, really.
Since I am always desirous of a positive mindset and life, I had to shift my thinking today.
I turned all of my I WANT statements into positive I AM statements, and as I wrote I felt my chest loosen, the tears dry up and joy fill my heart.
Here’s what I did to get myself off the downward spiral and back into an upswing.
I wrote the following affirmations and FELT the feelings along with them.
— I AM happy.
— I AM joyful.
— I AM accepting that I am in a parental role again.
— I AM accepting that my life isn’t what I planned or thought but embracing what it is NOW.
— I AM letting go of resentment.
— I AM allowing the Lord to work through me, to show me lessons I need to learn, and to rise above the negative feelings.
Don’t get me wrong — there are so many positives compared to the negatives.
And I list them to myself often to keep me going.
I remind myself:
— They’re safe.
— They’re secure.
— They’re in a stable environment.
— They’re exceling in school.
— They’re healthy.
— They’re happy.
— They play well together and with others.
— They’re empathetic.
— They’re compassionate.
— They’re LOVING. (Oh my gosh, they are such loving little boys.)
And listing personal blessings are critical:
— I am stronger in my faith than I have ever been before.
— My marriage is stronger than it has ever been.
— I have a new direction in my career that wouldn’t have happened without being forced to STOP a year ago.
— I am able to stay home and take care of my family’s needs while working my business again.
— I have a deeper understanding and level of compassion for others.
— I value freedom, friendships, and relationships so much more and don’t allow for drama and judgment in my life.
— I have discovered the importance of BEING instead of DOING.
— I finally understand what it means to “Be still and know I am God.”
— I have learned to step out of my comfort zone and walk through the fire of FEAR to the other side with the protection of LOVE and confidence.
— I have learned to EMBRACE ME and use my God-given gifts to help others find their light to shine.
I was actually afraid to share this post today out of fear of being judged.
But then I thought — screw that.
We have to stop judging others for BEING HUMAN.
For having feelings.
For being in pain.
We have to start reaching a hand out when someone is crying for help, even if the only thing you can do is hit like on a Facebook post or send a quick text saying “I’m thinking of you.”
So I’m pushing through the fear and sharing my grief with you.
I’m not doing it to get sympathy or a pat on the back that I’m doing a good job with the boys.
(Honestly, there are many days when people tell me that and all I feel is guilt because I know I can do better.)
I’m sharing it because someone out there, maybe you, has felt this way or feels this way about a situation in your life.
And maybe you won’t feel so alone about it and will be brave enough to tell someone you love and trust that you’re hurting emotionally.
That you’re grieving something in your life that you’ve lost.
So what does your grief look like to you?
What is something you’re grieving?
What steps can you take to manage your grief today?
Take a few moments to reflect on these questions and either journal about them, meditate on them, or talk with someone you love and trust.
Love and Light,
(P.S. Did this post resonate with you? Do you know someone who might benefit from these words? Please share on your social media using the links below!)
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