Friday, November 27, 2009
The Next Day
The day after / El dia después,
originally uploaded by Manuel Atienzar.
I'm finding that what has been recommended as a survival plan for significant anniversary days works. You must look ahead, plan ahead and incorporate your loved one in the day. This "technique" has worked both on our one year wedding anniversary, which was one month after Michael's death. And has also been very effective on Thanksgiving Day. By anticipating my emotions, and needs, ahead of time, I was able to plan each day with quiet time to honor Michael, to sit with him, and then proceed through the day without a major break down. What I haven't been able to plan well is the day after!
I've been wisely told by many that the first year of grief will be the "year of firsts." There will be many occasions that will be the "first time" without Michael. In a short span of two months, I have already had the first wedding anniversary without...the first Halloween without...and now the first Thanksgiving without Michael. And while it helps to get through each of these occasions easier, I'm feeling like I'm only doing it for the benefit of others. In my situation it is clearly for the benefit of my children. While they are now used to seeing their dad sitting on the couch in tears, in his bedroom in tears, or driving the car in tears, they shouldn't have to spend each holiday seeing me in tears. I think it is hard enough on kids who are grieving, so for this reason I am making a concerted effort. Yet it is not without a cost. There are many days that I wake up to that to others would not recognize as a significant anniversary. Sometimes I don't even register why I am feeling as I am until I reach for my Blackberry and look back to the previous year.
In this year of firsts, part of me desires to fully indulge in my grief. In a way I am envious of those whose children are already grown up, so they are less restricted, or apprehensive, about expressing themselves. It may just be me, my personality, codependency, or whatever you want to call it. I feel that I have a responsibility to not bring the room down, especially for my kids. Yet there is definitely a learning curve with any new experience, and grief is no different. So far my experience is telling me that what I put off today, I will experience tomorrow, sometimes two-fold. I use the word "balance" quite often, as it is something I strive for. By my attempts to over plan, over control, these significant days, I am waking up the next day with migraines, deep depression and more tears. I suppose I wanted so badly to survive these days with less fall-out, that I didn't fully understand what I was supposed to be doing. The benefit is not to get through these emotional mine fields unscathed, the benefit is to be mindful of what I am feeling.
It will continue to be a challenge to balance my own emotional needs with those of my children. I won't always get it right, but I will attempt to do this with less of a personal toll. Perhaps with practice I will suffer less by this Next Day syndrome.