Thursday, May 22, 2014
8 Things I'm Learning About Grief
Well it's been a year. A whole year since Kasie was murdered.
It has been terribly long, yet surprisingly short.
And I've learned a few things. Here are 8 of them.
1. Grief never ends but changes.
In the beginning, I thought I would never stop feeling the immense pain of my loss. Yet, somehow it ebbed and flowed until it eventually wasn't quite so severe. Most days I'm good and can handle every day life with ease. I still miss Kasie and feel and sense her absence from my life, but I'm good. Some days, though, are like the very first day we heard she was gone. Severe and intense and awful. But those are fewer now, which is a welcome change of pace.
2. But sometimes the change of pace is harder than grief itself.
It's a great irony that there is almost a sense of guilt that losing Kasie does not quite sting like it did in the beginning, at least not every day. And that can be hard to cope with some days, like I owe it to her memory to feel the pain every day.
3. Every day life and other unrelated drama gets complicated by grief.
I didn't realize how much every day life and other life drama would be even more complicated from losing Kasie. Any family drama causes me to get upset because I wish Kasie was there for me to talk to about it. The pain of finding out we aren't pregnant is only intensified by the fact that I should have my sister here to cry to about it and to confide in, but I don't. And then I am reminded that when we do get pregnant, I won't get to share that joy with my sister. Which leads to more sadness about our kids never getting to know their Aunt Kasie. And so on and so forth.
Situations that would have been complicated enough is just way more complicated without her here.
4. Dealing with the grief of others is difficult.
Coping with the grief of my family has been harder than I expected, and I have to remind myself that I can't hold myself responsible for making their grief easier to bear. Like my littlest sister and my mom. It's hard to see them upset or watch them deal with grief in their own ways. But grief seems to be one of those things that has to be allowed to play itself out until it becomes easier to handle. And that takes time. And a lot of sorrow. And no one wants to have to sit idly by while people you love are hurting. But that's a harsh reality of grief. You can be there, and you can be understanding, but it's ultimately something each person has to work through individually.
5. Everyone grieves differently.
This should be obvious, but grief is so different for everyone. I have, for the most part, learned what grief looks like for me (although, I experience it in a different way often), but learning other peoples' grief processes has been difficult, particularly those in my own family.
My mom and I went through Kasie's belongings a few weeks ago. For me, it was more or less just stuff. Some of it had some special meaning, but a lot of it was just knick-knack things like broken sandals and college course notes. But, to my mom, they were all special. Her reality is that she will never have anything like that of Kasie's again, which adds more value to it for her. And learning to understand that for my mom's sake (and for others in general) has been more difficult than I expected. The fact is that we all related to Kasie in different ways, which makes grief unique for each of us.
6. Grief incites a lot of anger (in me, at least).
Because we lost Kasie to murder - such a unique, unnatural loss - a large part of my grief is sheer anger. Obviously, I'm angry with the people responsible. But a lot of my anger stems from how slow and unsatisfying the justice process is. Processing evidence takes a long time. Building a case against a suspect takes even more time and patience and frustration. The lack of evidence is frustrating, too. The entertainment industry romanticizes these situations so much that reality is disappointing. Any crime show on TV begins and is resolved within an hour. And, even though we know that it's not a good representation of how the legal system works, it is still difficult to dichotomize entertainment drama from reality.
7. Holidays are extremely difficult and not what they used to be.
I used to LOVE Christmas and everything about the season. I'm the person who put up Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving and listens to Christmas music year-round. This last Christmas was different, though. I still love it. But it's not as shiny and exciting as it once was. It's...dull. And I don't mean boring. I mean that it just does not glisten for me like it used to do. Celebrations have a hollow in them where Kasie's presence once made them feel whole.
8. Somehow, life still goes on.
Whether I like it or not, life still demands to be lived. Bills still have to be paid. Holidays still come around each year.
Happiness does break through, though, and joy eventually comes. There are still hard moments and days. There is still sorrow. But reminders and memories of Kasie are mostly turned from tears to laughter. Remembering the good times with her eventually became joy-bringing, not sorrow-inducing.
It all just takes time. And having the patience to wait for it to get better can be bleak. But it's worth it.