For a long time after our loss it felt cruel that the world continues to turn as if nothing at all happened. Death had swallowed up my life, my dreams, my hopes and even a lot of my faith. And yet the sun rose again the next morning, and everything just was.
Our girl was dead.
Our world ended.
Yet hospital bills poured in a few months later, other extended family problems arose, and grief no longer could be the center of my world.
That was a comfortable place to be. To be defined by grief.
But as life just continued to happen I had no choice but to let life happen as it would.
I felt jarred doing the mundane tasks of life. Jarred getting gas, buying groceries, walking through the parking lot at church to find my seat quickly.
For somebody who craves adventure, I shriveled up into a homebody.
Home is where I could allow myself to be defined by grief.
I was a grieving mother, and when I drove to get groceries, buy gas or pay bills I couldn’t wear a stamp on my forehead telling the world why I looked as if I’d just seen a ghost, or why I was fighting back tears.
I couldn’t help it most of the time, and I had no idea how telling my broken heart was until I stepped out of the interview I’ll never forget.
In an attempt to embrace some sense of normalcy I sought out a job listing I found for a tutoring company, probably 8-10 weeks after our loss. It was a small building and the thought of not working around too many people seemed comforting.
I don’t remember much of the interview, but I’m sure I was drilled with all sorts of normal interview questions.
The pretty Asian lady switched gears and began talking about the most important facet of each employees’ responsibility.
“When parents come in here to talk about their children with us, we have to be happy, and excited for them.”
I nodded, smiling in agreement. I could do this, I told myself.
She said a few more things on this subject to confirm just how important what she was talking about was.
She wasn’t convinced that I could do this. “You look like you want to cry…”.
Well at that moment I almost did.
I tried to tie up this interview as quickly as possible, and ran over to my vehicle where I let it all out.
Her words were like knives in my heart, but I know she hardly meant to hurt me the way it did.
That moment taught me a lot about what I was really ready to embrace, and what I needed to let time take care of. Time doesn’t heal but it does have a was of training us and making us able to live this new normal.
That interview helped me realize that it’s okay to have a safe place. I knew in my heart so much of the old me was never coming back and that in itself was daunting. But in this safe place of allowing myself to be defined by grief – for as long as possible – was really okay.
Things would be more okay than I ever dreamed, or even wanted them to be.
Franchesca Cox is the founder of Still Standing Magazine. She is currently seeking her Master’s in Occupational Therapy, a yogi and author of Celebrating Pregnancy Again and Facets of Grief, a creative workbook for grieving mothers. Learn more about her heartwork on her website.