I’ve learned something valuable this past month – distraction can get in the way of grieving, and not in a good way. A few weeks ago I was at a baptism for the daughter of a friend and right at the end, I found myself crying for no apparent reason. Despite the fact that I write a public blog I’m not actually all that fond of breaking down in public. I have no problem crying – I just don’t want an audience. I took myself to the bathroom and let myself have a pretty big breakdown (but quietly so no one who walked in would know what I was doing!) thinking that I would get it out of my system and then be able to go back out and be O.K. A good theory, but it didn’t work. Every time I thought I was done, a wave of emotion would sweep over me and before I knew it I was tearing up again! And when I finally forced myself to take some deep breaths and calm down, one look in the mirror was enough to tell me that there was no hiding this. My only hope was to gather up my kids and get home! I didn’t quite make it – a few people caught me in the hall and at that point I just gave up trying to seem like everything was o.k. I got out of the building, drove us home, and told my kids that I was having a rough day and was going to go have a nap and some quiet time for awhile. Then I took a shower (because it is an awesome place to cry) and got into bed. It was a pretty rough day (ranking right up there with the first weeks after Tom died) with no apparent trigger for all that emotion.
The next day I got to thinking about the whole experience and what the weeks leading up to this day had been like. At the start of this journey of learning to live without Tom, I tried really hard to stay present. I’m a big reader, but I tried to make sure there was plenty of time in the day to think and remember and even cry when the need overtook me. I worked hard at spending time in the scriptures and praying in an effort to have the comfort of God. But I had gradually moved away from all that – I was busy doing all the parental responsibilities and then giving myself “escape time” with books. My prayers and scripture time started to take a less important role in my life. I felt like I was handling my grieving pretty well. But really, I was just putting it off. My method of coping didn’t work nearly as well as inviting in the comfort of the Holy Ghost and being present for the feelings of loss as they came.
Distraction is a big temptation. At the end of the day, I don’t really want to be all sad and spend time crying. I just want to go to bed. During the day I don’t want to be a walking emotional mess. It is easy to put it off – to figure I will take time to think about missing Tom tomorrow. But that is like arming a ticking time bomb. Eventually I will find myself feeling all that emotion whether I want to or not, whether it is at a time where I can be alone or not. So I’ve been making an effort to put down the book and pick up my journal instead – to pray instead of jump right into my day – to sit quietly and think about my love and how much I miss him, even when it makes me cry. In Doctrine & Covenants it says “Thou shalt live together in love, insomuch that thou shalt weep for the loss of them that die”. Grieving is part of loving and I’m finding that doing it well for me means doing it mindfully.