3 months and 16 days. That's how long it's been since she died. Since then we have experienced the ups and down of grief as individuals and as a family. It is interesting how we grieve together and apart. The children seem largely unaffected by Karagen's death and in most ways seem glad to have mommy and daddy home. The child who misses her the most openly is Emmaus, I expected this as they were very close and did everything together. From bathing and sleeping in the same room to playing dress up and coloring. Emmaus misses her dearest friend. Truth is we all miss her in our own way. Jachin goes ballistic when he sees pictures of her, he squeals and smiles and tries to say her name. Karagen meant so much to all of us, but our relationship with her was as unique as she was and as each of us are.
I feel like I am getting a hang of this grieving thing, like I am finally able to breath and think of Karagen without always feeling her crushing loss. I can still cry over the mere mention of her name, but that's ok. I still look for her face in their faces. I still long for her, especially as I watch the other children grow and change, I miss watching her grow and change. I miss her joining in on the rejoicing of small family events. Like Vaughn getting glasses, Emmaus and Silas getting excellent report cards, Jachin being potty trained and Gracey's singing. Oh how she loved our family, each one of us, oh how I miss her.
Here are some things we have learned during these past few months:
Grief is never predictable-A no brainer right? Yes, but strangely disconcerting. I can be doing laundry and burst into tears, or at a ladies group and burst into tears, or doing a myriad of things, and burst into tears.
We must be patient with ourselves. We can't expect to always want to cry when our spouse or loved one is crying or even want to discuss our lost loved one when they do. Sometimes it takes too much energy and we just want to forget-or at least not think about it for awhile and that's ok. We must be patient with ourselves and each other on every level.
Depression I have experienced this since Karagen death, so has Jonathan. It is normal, even to be expected after such a great loss. Again, be patient with yourself but also the best thing during depression is to get out, talk about it (even if you have to force yourself) do a good deed for someone else, anything to get your mind off yourself. For me I get worse depression before my period while my hormones are all out of whack.
Crazy Sleep Patterns Sometimes you'll feel exhausted and fall asleep quickly, other times you can't fall asleep no matter how many sheep you count. *smile* For me lying there allows my thoughts to drift to the most painful moments of Karagen's illness and death. I literally have to get up and distract myself. Read a book, get online, whatever, get your mind on better/different things.
Distract Yourself In the first few weeks after Karagen passed away I watched a movie, the same movie over and over, even napped to it. It kept my mind from dwelling on the depths of my loss so I could have moments of peace.
Loss of Sex Drive This is personal but true. You simply can't expect your body to be happy and ready to go when your heart is aching. It can be difficult to balance, but the best grief rule of thumb is to be patient with yourself and your spouse. Give what you can when you can.
Lack of Motivation You just don't have the energy to do it and you really don't have the energy to care. It doesn't matter what it is. I have learned a few tricks that have helped me in this. A breath of fresh air, playing good music, talking with a friend, writing on my blog, reading a devotional, watching a movie, playing the Wii, drinking more coffee etc. Anything to get me going, it doesn't always work, but I keep trying.
Healing comes when we keep our hearts open. It's painful to do but extremely necessary. Burn wounds have to be left open so they can "weep" and heal. Death causes that kind of wound to our hearts and they must be left open to ooze and heal. Oozing is a way to work through the healing process. It does not always feel good, in fact it hurts mostly. We have to let ourselves cry, even if it's at the "wrong" moments.
Allow yourself to be happy, but accept yourself when you aren't There will be moments when you will experience happiness, you will smile at a memory or laugh at a joke. That's ok! Other times nothing will get you up and that's ok too.
Let them love you Let your family members and friends love you. Let them encourage you and be there for you even if it is humbling or embarrassing. You need all the love you can get.
Don't Expect Too Much This one is quite tricky I'll admit. We cannot expect too much from ourselves, but especially not from other people. Family members and friends are often at a loss of how to help us, are mired in their own problems and lives and are grieving themselves. Cut yourself and them a lot of slack, everyone needs it during grief. Don't expect them to treat you the way you want/wish to be treated and don't expect them to say/do the most appropriate things. Death leaves us all clumsy and disoriented.
There is so much more to grief but these are a few of the lessons I have learned. The biggest thing in proper grief management is Patience!