A while after my son died, his father asked me if I thought that it would ever really get “better” like the parents in his grief support group said it would. At the time I said I thought so , but to be honest, I wasn’t sure. Actually, I didn’t believe that it would at all, but I thought that sounded too pessimistic so I said sure it would.
Five years down the road now myself and that conversation is on my mind again tonight.
I’m not someone who is willing to tell anyone what they want to hear if it’s not true so, in answer to “does it get better?”….
“Better” is a word that is clung to by those who are hurting and want to have hope that the pain they feel, in that moment, will go away. “Better” is an ethereal concept that, whether they admit it or not, insinuates that there is an end to grief and the pain of the loss they are feeling.
Sorry, spoiler alert here: “Better” doesn’t happen like that.
If I could share anything, it would be this – let go of looking to when you won’t hurt anymore. Forget about when you will have a day that you don’t cry, or rage, or hate. This is with you for good; in some form or another, this will be carried by you for the rest of your life. How that looks though is different than the “Better” that we think it should look like.
Just like the good things that happen in our lives help to shape us and stay with us, so do the not-so-great experiences. Like deaths of loved ones…and that’s just the way it is.
For myself, “Better” is seeing the things I have learned as the last five years have passed.
My son’s death has shown me that I have a darker sense of humour than I ever thought I did and also that sometimes you do have to laugh or you’ll go crazy. (There’s a funny story about my son’s ashes, a hard corner and a seat belt that I’ll tell another time…well, I find it funny 😉 )
So, not sugar-coated and not all Pollyanna and happy, but here are my top 10 things that death and grief has shown me:
- That a heart can keep beating even after you are certain it has been destroyed.
- That you can survive what you never imagined that you could.
- That tears have no end.
- That time does not heal all wounds, but it will soften the edges of the pain.
- That grief is a tangible entity, and it is heavy.
- That even in the midst of the worst darkness, you can find something to laugh at…. sometimes,and that it’s ok when you can’t.
- That when you don’t know how you will keep going, you will. Hope doesn’t always look like we think it will, and that’s all right.
- I have learned that asking “Why?” may be pointless, but you will anyways, over and over again.
- I have learned that you will never forget.
- I have learned that life does go on, and it will never be like it was…but that doesn’t mean it won’t or can’t be good.
Bonus point 11.
I have come to understand how a person can hurt so much that they would rather just not wake up the next day. I have learned that you will be glad that you did make it through that night to see the next day. You will learn to live with the grief.