I have been in a couple conversations recently where friends have asked, “Do you feel like you are getting better?” Let me say first and foremost that I could not have asked for better friends during the past three years. They have been present and gracious with me as I walk this journey. They are not afraid of me – nor my grief. I realize that is not the case for many grieving moms/parents. People tire of your sadness, they want you to get on with it, they wonder why you are so stuck in your loss. If my friends think those thoughts, they do not communicate them to me. Instead they continue to call, to go out to lunch, to email, or meet me for coffee. We talk about American Idol, the Bachelor, our kids and they continue to bravely to ask questions like the one above.
I am not “better” in the way the people who care about me would hope. I’m not less sad. I haven’t stopped acutely longing for Ben. He is always on my mind – his absence permeates every moment of my day. My tears continue to regenerate daily. I will say though that I feel like I have made significant steps in managing the pain that comes from being separated from him. I am no longer afraid of my reactions in public. I feel safe to go about my life and be outside of my house. I don’t need to pop anti-anxiety pills anymore to get me through birthday parties and holidays. My grief is more predictable and stable. But it is always there. I wear it like a bad 80’s spiral perm that will not be straightened. It does not go away, it is part of who I am now. Can you call that “better”?
My lovely friend Karen, who’s beautiful daughter Katie died in 2007, wrote about this so very well on her blog awhile back. I have held onto this quote because it resonated with me so much…
“People say, “time heals.” I will tell you, from my experience, that this is simply not true. Time alone does not heal a grieving heart, but time, like the tide, wears away at it. Time does its work of passing steadily, and as it does, I have been growing accustomed to the pain of living without Katie. This is not what I’d call “healing.” It’s more a matter of learning to suffer, learning to endure, learning to live with the ache and still function, more or less, in the world, as it goes on around me.”
– Karen Gerstenberger
I am definitely functioning better in the world again. Time does have something to do with that. Along with amazing friends, who continue to ask, but do not waver by my version of “better”.