Every time I go through a new feeling or sensation or moment of grief over my mother's passing, I find myself thinking, "no one ever told me that it would feel that way." Then I stop and consider the truth of the thing that I've heard said more than almost anything else in the past almost month since Mama died -- that grief is an individual road, unique for every person who walks it.
I know this is true, and I find both comfort and sadness in it. Comfort because it helps to know there is no "right way" to grieve or mourn, no set time when I am supposed to realize that it's easier now, or when I am "done" with grieving. Sadness because part of me would like the universality of grief to somehow translate more into an ability to understand not just my own process but someone else's process a little more thoroughly. But this side of eternity, we tend to see through a glass darkly, and the best we can do sometimes is just hold out our hands to each other or offer a quiet, strengthening prayer.
It has been eye opening for me to remember my mother in her own season of deep grieving over her father's passing. That was in 1981. I was 13, just like the sweet girl is now, and I remember feeling bewildered when I saw my strong and usually competent mother become weepy and somehow vague and tentative (in that sleep walking way the first days and weeks of grief make you). I didn't understand the fog she was in over her father's sudden and very unexpected passing. I remember feeling surprised when I heard that my uncle actually fainted at the hospital upon hearing the news that their dad was gone. I wouldn't have been surprised if my mother had done the same. I recall that she felt less "mine" during that time -- as though she'd walked into some country I couldn't entirely enter into yet, though I was deeply saddened over my grandfather's death. The depth of her grief was startling to me, and I suspect the depth of mine has been startling for my daughter too. Just the other day, in the midst of a difficult time, I found myself saying something about "not feeling like myself," and she said, "I know what you mean. I miss you."
So part of my grieving has been learning how to stay attentive and focused in a time when my brain and heart want to do anything else but that. There are times and places when it's appropriate that I wander off mentally, and times when it's not appropriate it all and I have to swallow it down with a gentle promise to my heart that I will find a time soon when I can deal with that particular wave. Of course, by the time I get around to tending to myself, that wave has often receded, only to be replaced by something new. It's as though every day I take a step into new territory and I have to look around and gauge what this new country is like.