I had a grief burst yesterday. Yup, a grief burst. It’s a term used by mental health professionals. It means, as it implies, a burst of grief and sorrow triggered by nothing and everything. I had one yesterday. It happened at work while I was doing payroll. A sudden sadness came over me and I thought, Peter really is dead. Then I let the tears flow out of me and bounce off my desktop. I’ve always been a crier, and I am getting used to crying anywhere because, really, I don’t care. I followed my cry up with a bawl after a friend sent a beautiful quote on grief which sent me into the bathroom in sobs.
In the afternoon, the burst followed me. I went to my six months check-up on girls, my breasts. It’s standard procedure for me since they’ve had their issues. At the visit, the nurse asked if I felt safe at home. I said, in a matter of fact way that scared me a bit, “well, my husband died and it’s just me at home, so yeah, I feel safe.” And then I busted out the ugly cry. When the nurse practitioner came in, a kind woman who I adored since I met her two years ago, I was still crying. She listened as I blubbered out “I was good yesterday. I don’t know what happened today. Grief got a hold of me.” We talked a bit and then I settled down into the sobbing aftermath of hiccups.
In the evening, I went to look into a support group for people dealing with sudden death. It’s led by two therapists who are experts in the field of grief, both having over thirty years of experience. This group will only deal with sudden death as she and her colleague believe this the grief is much different sudden death. Not better or worse, different. In sudden death, she told me, there are many faces, one of them caused by the circumstances. She went onto explain there is more navigation through feelings since the absence of goodbye hangs over you like a vulture circling you in confusion, trauma, and shock. Anyway, I cried as I told my story to her, Peter’s story. During the course of our back and forth, I explained my day to her, a day filled with sudden sorrow shaking me to my core. After listening to me, she explained grief bursts. I don’t know if having a name for it normalized my deep, unexpected puncture in my grief bubble, or her understanding, or both, but I started to feel okay. Not better, but okay. Remember, I’ll take okay.
As I drove home, I thought about the deep unhappiness I felt all day. I thought how sucky my life has been since Peter died and my hatred for it cause – Peter’s death. I questioned my faith, not just God, but life. I believed in Karma once and now, I’m not so sure. I mean, Peter did some great things. My kids do great things. I’m not exactly mean. And yet, did it matter? Why are we living in this hell too young to be in? I also believed in health – taking my meds, eating right, walking, reporting each and every bump in my breast – and yet, since the healthiest person I knew was killed, does it really matter? When it’s your time, is it your time and nothing can prevent it? How does God choose who stays and who goes? Or does God even choose? I still can’t feel God in any of this. I’m not questioning God’s existence as much as I did when Peter died. Yet I’m not really in a relationship with Her like I was before Peter died. I am open to God being a different from what I believed, what I thought I knew before Peter died. And in feeling all of this grief, in bursts or in long days, is it worth investing in relationships because when the person dies, it’s just too hard to live without him/her? Yeah, I got pretty deep in the car on the way home.
I don’t expect people who have not experienced this to know the answers. I don’t expect anyone to know anything at all. I don’t know if there are answers. If there are, then with every answer I think there are more questions without answers. That’s the way life is. That’s the way death is. I’m sure in time, the questions won’t go away, but my need to ask will lessen. Or at least that is my wish.
Yesterday, I had a grief burst and it threw me. Not back necessarily, but a whole lot of sideways. The grief burst left me vulnerable. The forgotten firework of grief exploded and the questions rained down. It brought about different reflections on my life. I didn’t want to go there again, and yet, there I was.
I will eventually get to the other side, where ever my new ‘other side’ will be, and in the meantime, during these eruptions of grief, I’ll cry, I’ll sob, I’ll continue to question, and I’ll always want Peter back.