How to Cope with Occasions
Bubbling sound and strong aroma of coffee signifies my morning cup of life-saving juice is ready - it's 6.15 am; I'm bleary-eyed, have not slept well and my cat won't leave me alone till he's fed - circling my cold feet and (although I didn't) I just want to kick him sky high and shout 'GIVE ME A MINUTEEEEEEE!!!!'
It's been an emotional roller-coaster of a week; our youngest had a 'taster day' at big school, our oldest girl turned 14, and it was father's day too to boot. Several significant life events happening all in one week.
Father's day and sea air brushes our faces. Huddling close, the kids, Alex and I stroll along the promenade. Lola has taken charge of pushing her dad in the wheelchair (she usually does, I think it's her way of connecting and looking after her dad), Esmie sits on his lap cuddling him to warm him up. They sporadically describe a scene to him - a seagull pooing mid-flight, a child crying - 'don't worry dad, that kid was crying but the mummy was there', the kids innately making sure their dad is reassured in his non-seeing world. Later I help Alex to drink his tea through a straw, as his shaky hand holds the cup, I gaze at him, into those bold, oceans-deep, blue eyes, the eyes that encapsulated me so many years ago. I wipe the tears from mine as suddenly I feel so overwhelmed by how Alex needs help with everything now. And I wish, I just wish, he could see his children as they are today...
The events of the week had me pondering how I cope with these occasions. As usual, there is no hard and fast rule, no 'dummies guide to'... but it is something I felt I wanted to explore and write about...
How to cope with 'occasions'.
By occasions, I mean any event or significant day, of which there are many! Arguably, every day spent without your loved one is an event and significant, but the significant life events - your child losing their first tooth, their first day at school, the birthday that your loved one doesn't even know is happening, Christmas, anniversaries... These days highlight and put your grief in a spotlight. Like you have been shoved on stage, exposed unexpectedly and you look on at a sea of faces expecting you to perform. Because usually, you do, and if you are reading this then I am making the (maybe incorrect!) assumption that you are not doing so from a corner in which you are rocking, whilst simultaneously drinking gin, through a straw out of the bottle...Generally, I think it is safe to say that, the faces of those who cross your path hide trauma of some sort or another.
So why is it especially these occasions that get us? Personally, I know it's because the sudden deluge of the 'what could have been' speeches grab centre stage in my mind. For me, it's as though, regardless of what a 'good place' I have been in leading up to this day, my subconscious demands acknowledgement of the sadness. I have recently been ok prior to the day, then awoken in the early hours of the morning and pain has just engulfed me - before even a conscious thought has entered my head - 'oh, that's why...' I finally rationalise after some seconds of wondering why I am THIS down.
So, I (yes one of my favourite words coming up...) ALLOW it. I no longer tell myself I should be coping better, or be over it by now. I honour the pain I am in, I wallow, even, in it! Because if I try and make it go away, I pay it negative attention, which reinforces it more deeply.
I try (if possible) to have an easy day that day. I will make time for a walk by the ocean alone, or I will just sit drinking a cup of tea with my thoughts and my feelings for a while. I may write, or I may call a friend and just cry doing that really annoying crying voice thing where your friend thinks a talking mouse has rung them...
Also, there's experience, experience and time tell you that you have gone through this time and time again, and you will get through this one too.
My advice to you would be to be GENTLE with yourself on those days, where possible, take yourself off, allow all the sorrow that is woven into your being to show itself for a while, then allow the rest of you, your life, the beauty in this world to weave it's luminosity around you too. FEELING it is healing it (what a dreadful saying I have just made up!).
Be gentle, be kind, allow it, and the pain will lessen after, you can resume normality. You will get through, it's ok, it's all part of this healing journey you are on.
There will never be a cure, there will probably never be a day that goes by when you don't feel some sadness at some point for the one you lost, but those times you are really feeling it are just as important as those days you are ok, they preempt the relief even, that you are ok.