No one can say how long or in which way another person is going to grieve. There are the famous “steps in grieving” but I don’t know what they are or particularly care. We’re all different. It’s an emotional rollercoaster, one minute bringing something completely different than the next.
Guilt is a topic all unto itself which I’ll tackle at some point, but for now let’s just say that it can be a fantastic motivator or a crushing burden.
Shortly after Stefanie’s death, to escape the media, we went away with just the kids and then my family joined us the next week. To say that it was the best thing at the time for us, is an understatement. For the boys having their cousins to interact with in a normal childhood way was a lifesaver for all of us.
And although I don’t remember much of it, there is one moment that sticks out. My brother (Mr. Meticulous) was having a conversation with my father (poster boy for old school) about body hair. Suffice to say that my father was aghast at the extent to which my brother grooms his body. I don’t remember a time when I have laughed that much or felt so guilty about it.
I thought (as I was laughing), “my family is going to think I’m heartless”, yet I couldn’t stop. I beat myself up about it for a long time afterwards feeling guilty for some fleeting moments of relief and happiness. It felt so good, and for an instant I was in a different country, a different time, away from reality and I was actually laughing. No one, at that moment, would believe that my first born had just been brutally murdered but if they did, they might think I did it.
It’s okay to have moments of happiness in the hardest times, whether it’s grief you’re struggling with or some other troubling time in your life. Give yourself permission to be happy because as those times increase, your point of focus will shift and things will continue to improve.
As we move through this blog, one theme will continue to pop up and that’s the concept of re-directing your thoughts. How easy it is to focus on the negative and so difficult to see anything positive. When life is particularly bad, one has to make a concerted effort to find anything positive, but that’s the key to climbing out of depths of despair.