I have learned that I can steer the emotional waves by blocking out time to let the grief in. The facilitator in the informational group I went to suggested this strategy and I’ve been giving it a try on days when I have social activities. I’ve found I can get through most of a day on stable ground if I make some time in the morning to remember the boy and let the emotions through. Today was the big test. The folks at work organized a going away party for me and I spent most of the day leading up to that having coffee and lunch with some of my closer friends there. With the exception of a brief misty moment when something triggered a memory, I made it through in a relatively serene state. I even managed to keep a dry eye when some of my friends misted up as they shared stories and said their good-byes. It was one of the warmest going away parties I have been to with lots of people stepping up to share memories and tell me how much they had appreciated my support over the years. It was nice. I had been tempted to nix the party given my mental state but I’m glad I didn’t. I will miss my work-family.
I have also learned that intentionally holding my emotions at bay for long periods of time comes at a price. There is always a painful session afterward with a flood of tears. In some ways, those more intense emotional episodes are welcome. The more violent the tears, the calmer I usually am when I’m done.
I’m not all that hung up on having people see me cry but it’s helpful to have a level of control. I am less reluctant to connect with the world when I am feeling less fragile.
The other thing I learned in that session was that eventually the ‘numb’ part of the emotional cycle go away. There’s a point where it all becomes too real to block out and the grief won’t turn off anymore. I’m not looking forward to that stage.