Grief is often described as coming in waves, of drowning, of being submerged. All of those illustrations fit for me; however, the scenario of body-surfing seems the most useful to me right now.
When I am riding high with confidence and even some joy, I know what awaits – an emotional dip. It always comes, even if it is smaller than the recent high. Soon there will be another upswing with the inevitable downswing. Let me explain.
My parents loved beaches and we spent many vacations on Cape Cod. As they lay in the sun I often was in the sea. I would look at the incoming waves, judging how to handle them. If a wave was quite large, then I might choose to dive through the middle, avoiding its full impact; other times I jumped up to meet the crest. If the wave was small, then I might simply bounce on the sand to keep my head above water as it went past. And if the wave was just right, I’d turn towards shore, hold my arms out and catch it at the right time to be carried in. At the end of the ride, I would be tumbling in the sand, pounded by the water – only to lift my head and realize just a few inches of water surged around me.
So it is with my grief for the loss of my husband Rick, and my efforts to regain normalcy in widowhood.
When my sorrow was fresh and raw, I avoided certain situations because I did not have confidence I could conduct myself appropriately. While my friends were accepting of my tears, I knew they were not socially acceptable and sometimes I just stayed home, ducking down to let circumstances flow over me.
Now I have the emotional fortitude to do almost anything. For example, there was a dragon boat festival this past weekend. I went a day early so that I could hear a favorite band with friends. At the races, I felt confident in contributing to our club’s wins and cheered as we received gold medals for our division. I was flying high, reaching over the surge.
As the weekend ended, I hit the shore, struggling a bit to steady myself with the inevitable let down. I came back to a silent home, unable to share my victories with Rick. It is easier than months ago. I no longer feel beaten into the sand; I can raise my head back up and take on the next challenge.
Water gives life.