I reached for a tissue as I stared at the rug under my canvas shoes. My heart felt heavy with disappointment. No matter how much time I spent in my therapist’s familiar office, I still didn’t feel “normal.” I once again was struggling with sleep, my muscles ached for no reason, and I had no energy.
I cleared my throat, trying to alleviate the thickness that had settled there days earlier.
“I thought I was doing so much better, but I feel right back where I started.”
My therapist sat quiet for a moment. Then she responded simply, “We are heading into the month of May.”
My eyes met hers.
I have been seeing Cassie for three years now. She knows my triggers, my traumas, my diagnoses, my losses, my anxieties, and my grief. Her response was evidence of how well she knows me.
“Do you think this is grief related?” I asked.
“I think that is very possible,” Cassie answered.
I looked around the room, trying to find words. “I haven’t even let myself think too much about Faith.” A pang of guilt touched my heart. “I’ve been avoiding the memories because that might make things worse.”
“Your body knows,” Cassie said softly. “It knows that Faith’s birthday is approaching. Your body remembers the hard weeks leading up to Faith’s death. Even if you are not consciously thinking about your grief and trauma, your mind and body are holding on to all of it.”
“But I don’t remember feeling like this last year. It’s been nine years since she died!” I could hear the hint of whining in my voice, but I didn’t care. “Shouldn’t it get easier as time passes? Shouldn’t I feel a little lighter than I did last year?”
"Not necessarily. It’s been a hard year. You experienced the loss of a very close friend. You have stood by friends as they experienced more loss. Grief doesn’t always make sense. You know that.”
I raised my eyebrows and nodded.
Cassie went on, “As we experience more loss, grief compounds. It doesn’t stay linked to just one loss; it accumulates. Give yourself some grace.”
I walked out of Cassie’s office that day with no more mascara on my lashes, but with a better understanding of what was going on within my body and brain. I felt validated knowing that what I was going through was “normal.”
The next day I processed my therapy session with my pen.
I’m not crazy. I’m not failing. I’m not backsliding in my healing journey. I’m grieving. And grief is weird.
It’s okay that spring feels heavier this year than in past years. It’s been a different year. A hard year.
When we experience great loss, other losses can pour on top of that grief. I lost my dear friend, who was one of my support people, this year. Now, as I approach all of these difficult dates, I am grieving multiple losses. And it’s hard. What is crazy is that my body knew it was hard before my mind did! And that is okay.
But HARD IS NOT IMPOSSIBLE…. I have seen God bring me through waves of grief, and I trust he will do it again. I would tell anyone else – “It’s okay that this month is hard.”
I must give myself that same grace.
Today, as I look at the tear-stained pages of my journal from 6 weeks ago, I realize that God did bring me through. It wasn’t pretty. But the seas ahead look calmer.
If you have gone through great loss, I hope you find validation from my experience. (Also, please know that no one gets to define what is great loss for you except YOU.)
You are not alone in the reoccurring cycles of grief. If it seems like your body knows the calendar better than your conscious mind, that’s normal.
You are normal.
Grief is weird.
____________________________________________________________________________________ Here are a few passages and a song quote that have been an encouragement to me recently. I hope you find encouragement from them as well.
“I have made you and I will carry you; I will sustain you and I will rescue you.”
“He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters.” Psalm 18:16
“May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you.“
“…Strength for Today, Bright Hope for Tomorrow…” – Great is Thy Faithfulness