Resistance is futile.
When it comes to grief, that is. You can’t bring people back from the dead, as far as I know. I asked my late husband that question, shortly after he died, via the tarot, and he responded with the Magician reversed–which I took to mean, he is not a Magician, what was I expecting him to be able to do? And you can’t build a time machine and go back and change things–again, as far as I know.
Everyone you talk to will try to talk you into resistance, though, if they give you any advice at all–though I have been pleasantly surprised by how many people are wise enough not to try. Even the intensive outpatient therapy program that I tried was full of ideas for ways to distract oneself from one’s grief (in fairness, that program was not focused on grieving–it was a one-size-fits-all program, and not a good fit for me). And people will say things like “time heals all wounds,” or “God doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle”–what brain truster came up with that? (Yeah, for those of you know JP, “brain truster” is a JP expression more than a Bonnie one. He had a way with words.) First of all, the reference to God is problematic. Secondly, LIFE gives people stuff they can’t handle ALL the time–what happens is, they don’t handle it. And in many cases, they die from the stuff they couldn’t handle that was indeed thrown at them. Holy fuck is that a stupid saying. Especially when said to people who have just been handed proof that it’s false.*
Distraction is possible, temporarily, but there’s really no point to it, because, again, resistance IS futile.
So my theory is, you have to dive in. You can’t outrun death or grief about a death. Since resistance is futile, don’t try.
Instead, I think, though your mileage may vary, that it’s safer to let grief flow.
In that regard, I think journaling is extremely helpful. My method is to write letters to the deceased. Not only are there usually things to say that one didn’t have a chance to say, but also, it’s incredibly helpful to write about the new things that happen too. It feels better to share those with the person you were always used to sharing everything with. Why wouldn’t you? Not everyone will feel that the dead can read your letters to them–and again, your mileage may vary–but even if you are certain they can’t, it’s still very therapeutic to write such letters. It gets the grief to flow and that’s what you need it to do. You can’t experience it all at once and get it over with in one step. You inevitably have to do it a bit at a time. Because you can’t experience a river just for a second, and that’s what grief is, in my view, anyway. And, if you bottle it up, that will work temporarily, but eventually the dam will burst. If you’re reading this, you probably already know that, but sometimes it helps to be reminded.
Journaling, of course, is just another bottle! But it’s a bottle that you can let the grief flow into. When it’s full, you can get another blank book (or more electronic storage if you’re typing it). I just filled up my first JP journal–it’s 400 pages written in three months. People say that I seem very composed–it’s because I’m pouring the noncomposure into journals. I do that with words, but you don’t have to; people often tell me, “oh, I don’t write.” Well, fine, but you can draw, paint, make collages, make something with your hands–sculpt, knit, etc. Or move furniture around and make a room, make a space. Or move your body around in yoga or dance or walking around. Or any of a zillion other things you can think of. All of it’s creative, and all of it’s a way to let the river of grief flow. Even watching motes of dust dance in a sunbeam is creative. You know what’s best for you.
But the point of this is not to get past the grief. You won’t get past the river. The river will carve out the landscape. You’re just organizing it a little bit. THERE IS NOTHING WRONG WITH THE RIVER. You don’t need to get past it. You just need to give it space in your life.
This is the second in my series of notes on grief. There will be several more. Here is a link to the first one: https://quietbonnie.com/2019/10/05/notes-on-grief-the-first-shock-on-divination-and-setting-up-routines/
*On the stupid things people say, I recommend this book: It’s Okay That You’re Not Okay, by Megan Devine. The Milwaukee library has it; your library probably does too. But you might have to put it on hold and wait for it because it’s that good.