A friend of mine asked me how long I had been griefwalking, but before I could answer, she said, "My dad has been gone now for four years and five months. I know when people would ask me how I was I would just lie and say I was doing great because that's what they wanted to hear."
Very true. It's been a little over four months and most people's tolerance for grief is over and done with. Four months is a long time; long enough for them to forget, but the reality is that I am still grieving, not as much as I did, but walking in grief is still part of my days. Take Friday night. I was driving to a friend's house and without thinking I drove to the last place where Mother had been, the night she died. When I "woke up," I was startled to realize where I was and how I'd gotten there, but my mind had become so deeply engrossed in grief, my body just took over and steered the car on autopilot.
That incident is just one of a number of things that I've observed in myself these past months. If I don't keep a firm focus, my mind will fly wildly, dragging my body along with "interesting" consequences. For example, some days it's hard to do much more than the absolute necessities of life. I find these days often follow a day or two when I think I've made great strides and am beginning to congratulate myself on how much progress I've made. It's as if I take three steps forward and then three back in a sort of stutter-step dance of body, mind and emotion.
I've also found that my emotions are much more deeply tied to the weather than they had been in the past. A dark, gloomy day like today has a greater capacity to drape over my soul than before. As clouds gather in the sky, rain falls in my heart as well. Conversely, a bright sunny day will lift my spirits, but oddly enough, sometimes the brightness is almost too much to bear. It's as if I can't bear too much light all at once and sometimes I find myself hiding inside, where the light is more filtered. Perhaps it is because the bright light casts too harsh a shadow and I cannot to see the stark contrast between dark and light quite yet.
So I'm learning to be a bit more compassionate toward myself; to allow myself to have the occasional day when I really can't do anymore than make a cup of tea and go to bed. Because griefwalking, like life itself, is process and while I don't want to lose any more of my life to the process than I have to, I also want to honor the process itself by granting it the time it needs.