As some of my friends and family know, I’ve been attending a loss support group every Monday for about three weeks now. It’s a small group, no more than six people on any given day, which makes it seem a little homier. Well, as “homey” as it can get when you’re all there primarily to talk about your loved ones who have passed away.
It isn’t necessarily helping just yet. I say “yet” because I do like keeping an optimistic outlook on things, but quite frankly it isn’t helping at all so far.
However, group this past Monday was quieter than usual, so the counselors used some questions about our losses that they had preprepared, in order to initiate conversation a little bit. At the end of the session, I asked if I could take pictures of the prompts, so that I could discuss them on my blog. They were things that I hadn’t really thought of yet, and I thought they were interesting, yet hard to think about.
Question #1: What has been the hardest part about losing your loved one?
- This was a difficult question to answer right off the bat, because when you’re grieving I guess you don’t really think about what the “hardest” thing is. To me, it all seems hard. After thinking for a few minutes as the others in my group shared their answers, I realized the hardest part about losing Dave is thinking about all of the things that he should be here for, that he can’t be here for. In the days and weeks prior to his death, him and his room mate were talking about coming down to visit me at my university. Small things, like get together’s with friends, breakfast sandwich dates, and face time dates before work are among the little things I miss most that he should be here for. But then there are the big things; undergrad graduation, med school graduation, our friends having kids years down the road, band tours, and everything else in the world. It just doesn’t seem right to picture that stuff without him, but I know that that is the cold, hard reality of the situation, and I will need to learn to adapt-even though I don’t ever have to stop missing him.
Question #2: How have you handled special days? Birthdays, anniversaries, holidays?
- This thought had not even crossed my mind until I held open this little scrap of paper with this question in fine print, neat and tidy across it. Luckily, neither Dave or I’s birthdays fell anytime immediately after his death date. No significant holidays either. So, I guess I don’t know how I’m going to handle these days. I don’t know how I’ll handle it when I text his phone “Happy Thanksgiving”, “Merry Christmas”, or some long happy birthday text message and phone call about how much I love him and hope he has a stellar day. I don’t know how I’ll handle it when I don’t get a single bear hug from him over Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Spring breaks, or how it will feel to not see him an entire time in the summer following this academic year. How will I feel when I wake up on my birthday and the first text isn’t the best birthday wish I’d get all day because it isn’t from him? I don’t know how any of the firsts without him will be, or the seconds, or the thirds. I think what intimidates me the most is not having to cope with any of those things, but the fear that eventually I will get used to him not being here for those things.
Question #3: What Brings You Comfort?
- Out of the three questions we discussed in group that day, this was the only one that my mind had run through time and time again while trying to find a serene place in my own mind and body. I have a t shirt of his, and a poem, and CD of some outrageous metal band he listened to. And I keep them in a plastic storage bag (my mom told me this would preserve the smell.) Other than blogging, something that gives me comfort is smelling Dave’s shirt. If I’m having a rough day in any way, shape, or form, whether it’s related to my grief or not, I pull Dave’s shirt out from the top drawer of my dresser in it’s little bag and I smell it. It sounds like such an odd thing to do, it really does, but I’ve cried on Dave’s shoulder so many times for comfort that I began to associate his smell with comfort. Smelling his shirt kinda lets me breathe in that feeling of laying with him or leaning on his shoulder or being wrapped up in his hugs another time, and that’s soothing.
I thought that these questions were pretty thought (and emotion) provoking, and that’s really why I wanted to share them with you all. I don’t think that it is bad to let other people ask us questions that make us take a step back, and kinda come back to the reality of things. In fact, I think it’s healthy to do these things. I’m not necessarily looking forward to the next group meeting, but maybe if they ask more of these questions I can be more mentally and emotionally present when I attend.