Post-grief, even the smallest things change...

There is a scene in the film Losing Layla where Layla’s mom Vanessa is in line at a bank or post office sometime during the first weeks after Layla has died.  The line is long and moving slowly.  A few people ahead of Vanessa in line are a mom and young child who is jumping and dancing around with a sweet little voice.  And the camera pans to Vanessa’s face.  You can see all the crumbling walls of pain and heartbreak falling down her body and spilling across the floor.

Let’s face it.  After grief comes, nothing is as simple as it seems on the surface anymore.  

The everyday things, like running errands, become complicated. Going to a café for a few minutes of quiet coffee time can be very difficult when you are a bereaved mother and the table next to you fills up with people who’ve just finished their Mommy and Me class. Going to any social event can feel arduous.

Sometimes it just is a reality that we have to be creative in our post-grief life to change up all the things that, prior, seemed so simple.  It may not be something you are up to in the first days or weeks after grief comes, but one small creative choice at a time will add up to a new way of doing things. Simply not being afraid to change your plans is a great way to allow yourself to step out of line, do a different errand, come back to the post office later.  Or getting your coffee to go and heading to the wide open space of the beach to enjoy it instead of staying at the café.

Much of the time, the changes required are a matter a paying attention to your heart, tending her as she needs tending, and being gentle with yourself instead of judgmental about the whole process.

In my own personal experience, after the death of my son, I just found it less heartbreaking, and much easier, to do my grocery shopping at one of the 24 hours shops, heading out late night, after 10pm to get what we needed.  That shop even had a 24/7 ATM of my bank, so I could do my banking in the late hours, too.  And they had a branch of the post office inside, too. While the branch itself wasn’t open that late, I could still post through the slots and buy my stamps via the machines there.  It was a heavenly gift to be able to do my basic, everyday things this way at first.  It allowed me to be creative and gentle in finding new ways to reconnect to the world at large without feeling rushed and pushed to do so because of errands.

Everyone will of course be different in how they feel post-grief.

The key is to be curious and tolerant with yourself as you discover what will work for you and what will not work for you.  And know that over time, your creative choices will shift and change and get bigger or maybe shift back to something more pre-grief-like.  But you need not force anything.  You are your own best advocate.  You are extraordinarily capable and response-able (able to respond) to your heart.  Take the best care possible.  And know that it is very normal that the simple things don’t seem simple anymore!

Much love <3 to each eyeball who stuck with it to get here :)

[Originally published Radical Creativity March 28, 2012]

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