Delays in the Grieving Process

Kimberly Tyler Health Guide
  • In my previous posts, I shared that a dear friend committed suicide last July.  During the initial two months that followed, I experienced a multitude of emotions: anger, sadness, frustration, and helplessness at not being able to prevent the loss of a wonderful woman.


    By September, however, these initial stages of grieving slowed down.  The Executor designated in her will forfeited his position and the second nominee could not do it either.  There wasn't a bloodline next of kin, so I took it on.


    I became the administrator of her estate and then due to other complications, I also became the power of attorney for her surviving husband as well as his de-facto guardian (he was 81 years old and in a nursing/rehab facility).

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    Responsibilities and deadlines quickly mounted.  I was turning from one task to the next, organizing paperwork, building filing systems, and driving two and a half hours (one way) in order to clean out the household and oversee the quality of care received for the husband.  The business of death and care giving took precedence, and the emotions of grieving came to a halt.  Although not entirely conscious about it at the time, I welcomed the continual series of distractions. 


    Last month, her husband suffered a massive stroke.  He passed away five days later. 


    I stopped just long enough that evening to take a breath, take a moment for myself.  And then I off and running again knowing exactly what to do: maintain the business end of death.  I cleaned out his room at the nursing home.  I filed the appropriate paperwork.  I tended to the arrangements for his services.  I was just this side of bossy in handling all that needed tending to.  I did not ask for (or want) any help. 


    To perhaps state the obvious, using distraction as a tool for putting off dealing with difficult emotions only works for so long. 


    Shortly following the services for the husband, I spent a week in a flare-up with fibromyalgia (the first since taking all of this on).  When these symptoms abated, I became very quiet. 


    Experiencing such an encompassing sense of quiet was unsettling.  I did not fight it, but I did not welcome it either.  I just sort of sat with it, waiting for clarity to surface. 


    When clarity did not show itself, I set out to force its progress.  I wrote pages and pages about the occurrences of the past year.  I wrote about the finality of death and the quality of life.  There were answers and insights in this mélange of events, and I was intent to hunt them down, to remove this darn quiet!


    Such has been my flailing attempt to bypass deep grief and move forward as quickly as possible. 


    I really do not want to return to the initial feelings of grief I experienced (ya think?).  It has been over six weeks now since this sense of quiet interrupted my eight month long vigil of distractions.  My attempts at creating a tidy little box of answers and insights are over as well. 


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    For as much as I know I know, there is still the capacity to ignore what I know I know.  That is one tidy conclusion I am clear about.  

Published On: June 30, 2008