Grief is boring. I am bored of reading about it, writing about it, and so i sympathise if you are bored of it too, if in your kind heart there’s a tiny bit of you that wants me to be over it now. But of course I’m also tired of experiencing it, which is worse. I’ve heard grief described as a marathon, not a sprint, but at 13 and a half months in I can say it’s more like one of those ultramarathons where people tape up their bleeding feet with duct tape so they can get to the finish line. Except with grief, no one knows where the finish line is.
I am currently at the seaside with my daughter and in laws, which has been lovely and sometimes very sad – often at the same time. I’ve written before about how fatiguing this ”doubling” in grief is, the holding of different emotional states simultaneously.
About three weeks ago I had a few days where I felt very close to nervous collapse. I did all the sensible things – got signed off work for a fortnight, adjusted my medication, told family and friends. I also started seeing a new therapist, who has specific experience in trauma and bereavement.
It has felt very frustrating at the one year mark to feel like I’m doing ”less well” than in previous months, and while I know grief isn’t linear, enough of me likes the rewards of ”progress” to feel disappointed in myself for taking a step ”backward”. (I use inverted commas because I know this isn’t a healthy way to see it.) It seems, though, that a low period at this point is common. Our society treats a year as a kind of distinctive period of mourning, although it’s entirely arbitrary, and I think we can internalise the idea that after a year things will be easier. A lot of people see the level of support they receive substantially drop off after the first few weeks, and after a year often only the most loyal friends are left. I am luckier in my friends than most – but I think these cultural norms are hard to completely shrug off.
Perhaps most significantly, this kind of timeframe elapsing since bereavement seems to allow enough healing for traumas your brain couldn’t manage at the time to resurface. What a great gift, right?! I try to remember what my therapist said – your mind isn’t trying to hurt you, it is trying to process what happened to you. I’ve accepted that I need help to do this, because it’s become clear to me that the weeks leading up to Kieran’s death nearly as much as his actual death wounded my psyche profoundly.
I’m pretty confident I’ll keep healing. I feel better than I did three weeks ago. Today feels like a sad day, but yesterday I felt good, and I didn’t think about Kieran’s suicide until about 5pm, which in the early days would have been unthinkable. But I am fatigued and bored by this long journey. If you share this path, I send you my love and empathy. I can’t carry your burden, just as you can’t carry mine. But we can keep each other company, which on a lonely path is sometimes enough.