I’ve spent many hours walking in the desert during the past few months, which has given me plenty of time to contemplate grief, life, death and anything else that comes to mind. One thought that filtered through my mind was the idea that when my mate died, I split in two. The me that shared a life with him is grieving still, while the other me, the one who was born with his death, continues to live and grow. As long as I am in the person of this second me, I do fine — I’m strong, in control of my emotions, looking forward to what comes to me in life. The problem is that I keep slipping over to the other me, the grieving me, and when I do, the grief is as new as it was when it first hit me. The task is to reconnect the two parts — both the grieving me and the new me.
This might seem like dissociative personality disorder, though it’s not really a disorder. It’s how we all deal with life. I don’t remember the name of the person, but a psychologist once hypothesized that there are no true moods. What we think of as moods are different personalities. This natural order becomes a disorder when you lose track of yourself during mood swings or when they cease to be a way of dealing with life and become a way of hiding from life. I don’t know the truth of this, nor do I know the truth of my idea of splitting apart, but my idea feels true. I can almost feel the clunk of the gears as I switch from one mode to the other. I don’t switch as often now, which makes me think I’ll eventually be whole again.
Today, at my grief group meeting, I had a graphic example of how I am moving beyond my grief (at least for the moment. It does swing back and slam me in the gut from time to time).
During these meetings, there is a lesson — a topic — that we discuss before going on to personal updates. One of today’s lessons started out: Grief brings with it a terrible and lonely loss. Instead of acknowledging the sentiment, and contemplating my terrible and lonely loss as I was supposed to, I looked at the words, and said, “No, it doesn’t.”
This brought the meeting to a standstill while everyone stared at me.
“Grief doesn’t bring the loss. Loss brings the grief, ” I said.
More silence. Eventually, they agreed with me, probably to shut me up and get the discussion going again.
The point is, I focused on the words, not on the emotion. Of course, this could be more that I’m in writing mode than that I’m moving on with my life, but I took it as a good sign. Because this is the truth: death brings a terrible and lonely loss. Grief is our reaction to the loss, and ultimately it’s how we learn to heal the rift in ourselves brought about by that loss.