As the month of April approached this year, I found myself getting so tired and frequently getting sick. I never get sick. I didn’t understand what was happening. Why was I such a mess? I was eating well, exercising; doing everything I could to stay healthy. Yet I was still exhausted and my immune system showed it.
As I gave myself some quiet time to reflect and slow down, I realized how deeply sad I was again. I realized how grief was creeping up on me again as ‘her month’ approached. I mean, I always feel sad but not to the point that it wears me down physically. I remembered how tired and sick I felt in the months after Gianna died and I felt the exact same way right now. But now it was three years later! WHY was I still grieving so intensely after three years? WHY was my daughter’s death still so difficult for me to manage? I was definitely surprised to see myself this way; I never imagined grief would have such a strong hold three years later.
I sometimes wonder if people think, “It’s been three years, why hasn’t she gotten over it yet??” Frankly, I wondered that myself. Seeing myself so affected by grief, especially in a physical way, surprised me. It’s unbelievable the amount of energy grief consumes, and how much time it takes. But I definitely never envisioned it being this challenging as the years progressed.
Three years later and here I am. Still sad, still tired from grief. But why would this surprise me? Why would it surprise anyone? Losing a child is losing a part of yourself; it is losing a part of your heart. With time, we learn to carry the loss and pain a little better but time definitely doesn’t take the memory and the pain away. At least that’s what I’ve experienced. I think that’s precisely the mistake: seeing grief as something “wrong” or that needs to be “fixed” and expecting it to go away, like a cold. Of course it’s still there. It’s still there because she is still not here. And that is why grief will always be a part of my life, to some degree or another.
I think this brief, 1 minute video does a great job explaining how grief changes over time but always remains.
'You don't get over grief, you just learn to have it as part of your life.'This analogy of how we deal with bereavement is spot on.
Posted by BBC iPlayer on Sunday, April 22, 2018
I know I have more grey hairs and wrinkles because of this grief. I know I have a lower physical reserve because of this grief. But, through my grief I have her. My Gianna Rose. And I would rather have grey hairs and wrinkles with her, than have any day without her.
My dear Gianna Rose,
Three years without you have broken me down.
Three years without you have also shown me how resilient I am in the face of hardship. Three years without you have united my marriage in ways I never thought possible. Three years without you have softened my heart and made it more compassionate and loving towards all creatures. Three years without you have made me more confident in who I am and helped me embrace my story and share it with the world. Three years without you have taught me to slow down and find peace and joy in the present moment, for that is all we have. Three years without you have shown me the strength of community and the power of authentic friendships. Three years without you have shown me that true strength lies in the ability to be vulnerable. Three years without you have shown me there is beauty in loving and losing because those who risk loving always come out triumphant, no matter the outcome. And after living three years without you, my heart and my outlook on life will never be the same. For all of this, I am thankful.
Of course, my daughter didn’t have to die so I could learn these lessons. That’s not why anyone dies.
But, slowly and with time, there are moments when the darkness and fog begin to clear
and I begin to recognize that the sun has been there all along.