It has now been nine months since my wife died. The days of intense and constant pain have subsided to occasional waves of sadness and tears. There are times when I wonder where I am on the journey and if I am too far away from my feelings and therefore should be in more pain. I have to realize that the many years of working with hurting people has made it much harder for me to feel or show emotions. My tears seem to stop on the back side of my eyes.
Some of the lack of emotional outburst or inburst is caused by the transitions I am facing. Four months after the death of my wife my eyesight suddenly became much worse and I have had to give up driving. This has led me to make the decision to sell my home and move into a retirement center. Not being able to drive and living alone turns a house into a prison, and I had much rather make the decision to move myself instead of waiting for my children to struggle with making me do so. I also think it best to make these moves while still able to adjust and build a social life. Most folks wait too long. I had rather go too early than too late.
As I analyzed my feelings and responses I began to wonder about how long it took to make the grief journey and how we are suppose to know when the journey is complete. Since everyone goes through grief in their own way and on their own schedule I am sure my thoughts and reactions will not fit many others. The most helpful thing about my sharing my journey is to make it more and more evident that we actually do go through grief in a way unique to each of us.
Right now I feel like there is a large hollow place riding next to me in the spot she always filled. It is not necessarily painful nor even lonely. It is hard to express in words other than a hollow place that nothing seems to touch much less fill. So far I have had no desire to even try. I have not begun a dating relationship (at my age that sounds weird) and do not seem to have any interest in even looking.
The one thing I have noticed as what I hope is a carryover from the grief and stress of the last eight months is my mind is far from being back to normal. I seem to have attention deficit disorder to the max. I jump from one thought to the next with such rapidity that I can’t remember what I started out trying to think about. When a TV show stops for the endless commercials I forget what the show I was watching was about and have long ago started switching channels to other shows which I don’t stay with either.
What I think this means is, long after the time of initial pain the impact of grief lingers on in ways we probably don’t realize and no one has written about. Someone asked me recently how long it took to grieve a loss. I said there was no way to answer that question specifically but in general terms I thought it took about two years. That does not mean we hurt for two years, but I think it takes that long to work through all of the transitions, emotions, and mental impacts that come with the loss of a love. I hope the Attention Deficit Disorder part passes quicker than that.
Copyright Doug Manning of In-Sight Books, Inc. Doug’s books, CDs and DVDs are available at www.insightbooks.com. Post originally published on Doug’s Blog at The Care Community www.thecarecommunity.com.
Updated: October 2, 2013