It’s been almost four months since she died. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about her, a conversation we had, a personal disclosure she entrusted to me, an appointment I drove her to and the last lunch we had together. I think of her courage, her challenges, her failures, disappointments and despite it all she still had hope for a better life. I think of her two orphaned children who on the few times I have seen them after their mother’s death, were wearing hand me downs that I gave to them from my own children…and it still hurts.
I have experienced many deaths in my family. Last year alone I attended three funerals but I never felt the kind of grief that was brought on by Lisa’s sudden, mysterious and untimely death. There are rare days when I almost forget about the vacancy her death has left in me, and then something pops up to remind me that it’s still there – unprocessed, unresolved and raw as ever. As is my way, I have not spoken with anyone about my feelings, instead choosing to deal with my grief privately. But after this amount of time, it’s not going away and I don’t know how to reconcile my conflicting feelings on my own.
I have lost faith in the world and without that, I am floundering. I want to believe in something bigger than me, something incomprehensible, an all loving, non judging, universal energy that supports me and all of us…but I am afraid to place my trust in the universe, in life. Anger has numbed me and Fear has filled my heart. Maybe for some people it would be an easy choice to move on from this and abandon all spiritual beliefs, but for me it’s difficult and I have no idea which side of this I am going to come out on.
Last Friday at work, I had a bit of a meltdown in a team meeting and before I could stop myself I was admitting to my co-workers that although I have respect for traditional ways and ceremonies (I work for an Aboriginal, culture based agency), I wasn’t sure if I truly believed in them and that I was still struggling with the death of my client. Being Aboriginal myself, I felt like I was a traitor and betraying my entire race with my doubts, but the responses I got back surprised me. “I understand…I have been there too…I have experienced the same…It’s okay…” I cried and couldn’t stop and for the first time in the last four months, I felt like I could fully breathe again.
I still don’t know how I am going to come out of this and what exactly my personal beliefs about the world are. I do know that I feel better for opening up to my co-workers, some of whom are long time friends and “traditional people”.
I once heard Lisa say to another person who was struggling and feeling afraid to ask for help, “It’s okay, everybody needs some help sometimes”. I’m taking those words to heart and realizing that today is a good time as any for me to reach out, express my grief and ask for some help in processing it.