What is the difference between grieving inside the Waiting Room vs outside?
Someone in my Life Starters community asked me this question this week. So, I thought this is an answer I want all of you to have.
There is an element of daring life again when we go and cry on top of a mountain.
There is a roar that takes place within us when we scream under the stars.
The roar gets silenced when we hide from the life that we want to have after loss.
The roar is silenced sometimes permanently if we wait too long to unleash it.
But how do we choose the hike vs the waiting room?
How do we choose the new outfit vs the pajamas we have been wearing for days?
How do we choose the healthy food vs the donut?
How do we choose it when we have nothing left in us?
After he died, I started running around the meadows close to my house in Concord, MA.
I remember these two orange butterflies flying by my side every time I was there.
I remember the music I listened to.
And I remember the roar I felt 20 minutes into the run.
That is when I would daydream about the future and grief could not catch me.
Grief stood no chance inside that meadow.
Another roar experience was the weekend gateways with the girls.
I have such distinct memories of those, yes they were very sad but I remember the girls giggling at the beach.
I remember them having marshmallows next to the fire.
And yes, I was secretly crying while there.
I would sob watching the sunset.
And my heart would mourn so much more than it would have if I had stayed home.
I guess what I am trying to say is that grieving while living is more healing than waiting for time to heal us.
And it is never too soon to hike that mountain.
It is never too soon to run inside the meadow, and it is never too soon to go and cry at the beach.
And yes, there will be days when you have to cry under covers behind locked doors when nobody is watching, but these days must not outweigh the days roaring your grief into the world.
I actually do less roaring now than I did the first few years after.
The fuel of grief can be used as a catalyst for your next life or as a burden.
We get to make that choice.
No matter the circumstances and the vastness of our tragedies we do have this choice. So here is your homework for this upcoming week just to get you started.
When you get up in the morning put on your favorite music as you are making your coffee. Let the music follow you around the house.
I put music on my phone, and put it inside my pocket and it walks around with me.
If music is not your thing, listen to a great audiobook.
My go to audio books are science fiction.
They take me away into a different world.
Make your morning about you. Before the kids and dogs wake up. Before the sun comes up. Even if you do this for 20 minutes I promise you it will take you outside of the waiting room.
Now this gets trickier because we have jobs and responsibilities and meetings. And of course kids and grandkids.
How do you exit the waiting room at noon?
If you have a lunch hour grab your jacket and go outside. If you don’t work, go somewhere close by that you have never been before and see new buildings, meet strangers.
Yes, this sounds basic but it helps the brain get used to different surroundings.
Talk to the person who makes you coffee at the cafe.
Take in the new views.
Find a way to sneak some life into whatever you do.
If you can’t get outside, or go anywhere at noon, close your eyes and meditate for 5 minutes.
Just breath in and out. Listen to your breath.
Hmmmm… this was the worst time of all for me.
I was so tired at night that I would fall asleep on the couch by 7 pm and the girls would wake me up. I felt like a terrible mom but I was exhausted.
I was also depressed and sad. And so desperate.
That is also when my anxiety would get the best of me.
And I have to say that stepping outside of the Waiting Room in the evening is so very tough. But not impossible. And you don’t have to do this every single night.
But here is what I did sometimes. When it was light enough I would take the girls and we would drive for at least two hours after work and school, just singing along together.
I drove all the back country of Massachusetts. The girls would love it.
When it was dark and cold, and the snow would be everywhere and there was nowhere to go, I would write in my journal. I wrote and wrote and wrote.
Not every night but when I did, my grief would cleanse and the real mourning would take place. For a period of time I also fell asleep with meditations I found online.
I would fall asleep with my headphones on.
And for the nights that you don’t want to journal or you don’t want to drive, find something fun to watch on TV. Something that transports you far away. We can’t mourn every night. It would be too much.
I used to literally hate the weekends. A lot.
Nobody called me during the weekends.
They were all with their families.
My anxiety would be the worst then.
I remember days when I could not breathe.
And I had time on my hands and no work.
And I didn’t like to have time. It was too much for me.
His absence was worse during the weekends.
Say yes to day trips with yourself.
Say yes to a new hobby or an online class if you don’t want to leave your house.
And as I say in my book plug in to something new.
Your new life is calling you and the weekends are there for you to step into that new life even for just a little bit. Go to the farmers market.
Get some fresh flowers. Bake. Go to the library.
Just don’t stay in the Waiting Room during the weekend.
We can get stuck in there. I did many times.
I think my grieving/torture time would have been lessened if I plugged into the new life more than I did. If I had this letter sent to me by someone else. But the good news is that I can send this letter to you now.
Above all don’t let your grief convince you to abandon the hope of a new life.
It is up to you to find your way out of the waiting room.
And this letter is just the beginning of the journey back to life.
I can’t wait to see what you do this week.