Our Story Begins:
Grief Grenades That Come
Out of Nowhere
I’ve been through many things in the last six years. A lot of stress, a lot of frustration, a lot of love, a lot of confusion, all of it coming at me from all directions.
I didn’t really think much about what forms grief took. I knew the stages, I had people come and tell me about what was coming, but at the end of the day there were a lot of people that said the whole experience is different for everyone. Someone who’s been married a long time – like I was – may have a different experience than the people who, say, were in a relationship for several years and lost their significant other. It’s not the time it’s what you did with that time. You always have feelings and you always have regrets. That’s human nature.
The one thing that I’ve found to seem universal is the fact that things hit you from out of nowhere. A friend, who lost her own spouse some years ago, called them “grief bombs” or “grief grenades”.
There’s a reason for this. As bad and stressful as the significant events in your life are without that other person, you know they’re coming. I have been through six Christmases, three proms, a high school and and 8th grade graduation. I have seen relationship breakups – one boy broke up with my daughter via text. Yeah.
My life is speeding along handily now. It’s not always easy, but it’s easier than it was. I found myself realizing I was ready to care for someone else again and found myself hitting things like the sixth anniversary of my wife’s passing without being knocked over by waves of grief.
Yet things can still come out of the blue.
For work I was speaking with a family whose little girl needs a breathing machine and a feeding tube . . . something very difficult for any family to contend with at any time.
Then the little girl needed her breathing tube and throat cleared. I hadn’t even realized or thought about that.
The picture you see up there I begrudgingly saved from just a couple days before my wife passed. She had a strain of pneumonia they couldn’t knock down, not with any antibiotics. She had ended up on a respirator. Because of that, the fluid in her lungs that was building up from the pneumonia had to be cleared. Just like this little girl we saw . . . my wife had a tube that went into her throat and removed the fluid.
I had to briefly leave the room when the mom did it. I still had to work and was able to quickly compose myself.
What caught me was how this came out of nowhere. I have seen, felt, dealt with, and weathered emotions, anger, and sadness from my four children, relatives, in-laws, and worst of all, myself. Yet even today, the reminder hits me. No matter what difficulties, what stress, what frustrations I see, there is still one true thing: I did love my wife. Seeing her like that, in a bed, helpless, and worse, being helpless myself, were all terrible burdens to bear. No matter what you do to put those things behind you they still exist. They still creep up on you.
But it’s also a reminder of strength: strength of a bond you have with another person; strength of character to know you feel for what they’re going through; strength to know that it affects everyone around you; and strength to know that you can experience all of these things and still know you can be with your kids, family, and even have another relationship. Your feelings for the one you lost don’t change your feelings for someone else.
So what does this have to do with being a dad or a parent? Things happen, reminders of memories and times past, good and bad. The bad can still throw you for a loop. But remembering what it is that makes those feelings that difficult: the bond you have with that lost person as well as the family around you is what will allow you to weather that storm.