I’ve often read that grief is a journey with steps forward and back but that’s not how I see it. I think of my life as being like a huge rambling mansion with rooms ranging from the few that I mostly live in (my everyday life and thoughts), through to rooms that I use occasionally to rooms that I practically or actually never find myself going into.
When Sharon died a storm ripped through the mansion leaving behind a thick layer of dust that worked its way into everything. I couldn’t move without being crippled by clouds of choking dust. I started clearing out the dust but it was slow going because whenever I disturbed the dust it would throw up a thick choking cloud which would settle again leaving everything looking just as dusty as it did before I started. After a lot of time and tears things began to clear up, at first I managed to clean the rooms I had to go in every day then I went out looking for rooms to clean: I went out on “our” favourite walk and claimed it for myself; I learnt to play the songs that I couldn’t listen to without crying; I started treating myself to trips to local cinema sitting in my favourite seat, the centre of the front, rather than the cosy corner that we were both happy with. As time goes on it gets harder and harder to find the dust, but the search continues.
There’s still a lot of dust about, I can feel its presences, but it’s a tightness in my eyes and throat that I’m not really aware of rather than the crippling choking that there used to be. Sometimes I find a pocket of dust in a forgotten room or a hidden nook. If I can I’ll tackle it there and then, if that’s not convenient then I’ll make the time to go back to it and face the clean-up and the cloud as soon as I can.
Looking things this way turns the usual view of grief as a journey on its head. A week or so ago I had a sobby day on a par with the days early on in my grief, I didn’t see it as a set back, it was a day of finding and facing pain that had kept itself hidden. For me that day was spent on tackling a chore that needed to be done, it was a day well spent moving forward on my journey.